28 June 2014

South Sudan: Why Peace Talks Have Been Adjourned?

Photo: Jessica Hatcher/IRIN
Two women sit at the UNMISS base in Rumbek, Lakes State, South Sudan.

opinion

To answer the above-mentioned question, one would like to ask some more questions whose answers may clarify such adjournment as follows:

What is the main reason for IGAD mediation to adjourned peace talks indefinitely? What is the concept of inclusion and participation of other stakeholders in peace talks? What does the 9 May 2014 Agreement on Resolving the Crisis in South Sudan and the 10 June 2014 Communiqué of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government stated about the inclusion and participation? Who coined the term "multi-stakeholder roundtable" and is it possible that an expeditious peace can be achieved through such approach? What is the main role of IGAD mediation or mediation generally?

1. Firstly, it is clear that the mediation has misguided itself by misinterpreting the concept of inclusion and the mode of participation of other stakeholders, which does not necessarily, means multi-stakeholder roundtable. The mediation has also misguided itself by adopting multi-stakeholder roundtable without consultation with the two direct negotiators.

2. The 9 May 2014 Agreement on Resolving the Crisis in South Sudan which was signed by President Salva Kiir and Cde Chairman Dr. Riek Machar does not authorize or empower IGAD mediation to take such kind of decisions without consultation with the two direct negotiators. Yes, the provisions of inclusion and participation of other stakeholders in the peace talks was drafted ambiguously in that 9 May Agreement and that is why IGAD mediation has gone different way. As a result of ambiguity in such provisions the mediation had coined the term "multi-stakeholder roundtable" which is not mentioned in such agreement.

3. As the 9 May Agreement is silent about the mode of participation of other stakeholders; however, the 10 June 2014 Communiqué of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government has tried to clarify the ambiguity and silence in term of the mode of participation of other stakeholders by stating that " those stakeholders have the explicit right to determine the composition of their representation in consultation with the mediation" and yet such provisions has fallen short to address the issue of " who are those stakeholders" and the mode of selection of such stakeholders. That is why the SPLM/A had requested the mediation that they should be given the same representation which was given to other stakeholders in the Government control areas because sizable civil society, representative of the victims, political parties and other faith based group which have been forced to leave the Country are not represented. The mediation has ignored such request of the SPLM/A. However, the mediation when further to give more additional representation to the civil society and political parties that came from government control areas.

4. Furthermore, the mediation has rejected a proposal by the SPLM/A that peace talks should continue between two direct negotiators while pending issues would be handled by the mediation and two direct negotiators. Therefore, the mediations has complicated the whole process by adopting a very complicated approach " multi- stakeholder roundtable" without making an consultation with the direct negotiators and without considering that an expeditious peace could not be achieved through such approach. As a result, unnecessary adjournment was made by the mediation despite the fact that the two direct negotiators were willing to continue discussing the issues while pending issues are being handled in the process.

5. Finally, the mediation has complicated the process by adopting a "multi-stakeholder roundtable" which is not stipulated in the 9 May 2014 as well as the 10 June 2014 Communiqué of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government, in addition to that, by adopting unfair process of representation of other stakeholders without considering the participation of other stakeholders. Nevertheless, the mediation has taken upon itself different functions instead of facilitating and moderating the peace talks, it has turned to make decisions on the behalf of the South Sudan parties in the peace talks.

6. One would suggest that for peace to be achieved expeditiously, and with the fact that the two direct negotiators are willing to continue talking, the mediation should adopt a consultative approach instead of the current unilateral approach so that unnecessary delays and adjournments are avoid for the sake of peace in South Sudan. The mediation should not allow different conflict of interests to halt and prevent people of South Sudan to see and enjoy the fruits of peace. It would be advisable if the mediation would adopt CPA approach instead of the "multi-stakeholder roundtable" if all of us have the same interest in expeditious peace.

The author is an advocate and member of SPLM/A in Opposition.

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