Voice of America (Washington, DC)

23 June 2014

South Sudan: Peace Talks Adjourned

Photo: Jared Ferrie/IPS
Peacekeepers on patrol in South Sudan.

The East African bloc mediating peace talks for South Sudan adjourned the negotiations on Monday to allow its envoys to try to get the talks back on track after the opposition refused to take part in them.

During the adjournment, special envoys from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) will hold "broad consultations with South Sudanese stakeholders, the leaders of the IGAD region, the African Union the United Nations Security Council and other friends and partners of South Sudan," IGAD said in a statement.

They will also follow up on efforts that are being made to deploy teams in South Sudan to monitor a ceasefire that has struggled to take hold.

The so-called Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM) was agreed to when the first cessation of hostilities agreement was signed in January, but the deployment of monitoring teams and regional troops to protect them was halted when fighting picked up again a few months later.

The two sides in the South Sudan conflict have met several times in Addis Ababa for IGAD-led peace talks. The latest round, which opened on Friday, was supposed to bring other parties, besides the government and opposition, to the negotiating table.

The opposition boycotted the talks because, it said, a request to IGAD that groups in exile be included in the negotiations fell on deaf ears.

IGAD said it is working with the international community to ensure that protection and monitoring forces are deployed in South Sudan, that a beefed-up U.N. peacekeeping force, focussed on protecting civilians is put in place, and that aid workers have unimpeded access to those in need.

The United Nations says some 1.5 million people have been forced from their homes by more than six months of fighting in South Sudan, and 3.9 million people will face "alarming food insecurity" by the end of August.

IGAD closed its statement by urging "the political leaders of South Sudan to assume their responsibilities with the same resolve that their neighbors and the international community attach to this tragic situation."

IGAD did not indicate for how long the talks would be adjourned.

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InFocus

South Sudan Peace Talks Adjourned

Peacekeepers on patrol in South Sudan.

The East Africa-mediated peace talks have been adjourned due to a boycott by the rebels, who criticized the process of selecting stakeholders in negotiations Read more »