30 July 2014

South Sudan Peace Talks May Resume On Monday

Addis Ababa/Juba — A new round of peace talks between South Sudan's warring parties has been delayed, but officials from the rebel movement and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) say they expect negotiations to resume on Monday.

The fourth round of negotiations between the South Sudanese government and the rebel faction led by former vice-president Riek Machar were scheduled to resume on Wednesday 30 July in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

"The talks are postponed to Monday, 4 August," reliable sources told Sudan Tribune on condition of anonymity as they are not authorised to speak to the media.

IGAD, which is mediating the two conflicting parties, hasn't yet officially given an explanation for the postponement.

In Juba, South Sudan's Information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, attributed the postponement of talks to logistical issues and the Eid-el-Fitr Muslim holiday.

However, the minister in a short statement broadcast by South Sudan Television on Wednesday reiterated Juba commitment to the peace process and expressed hopes to be in Addis Ababa between Thursday and Friday.

He further added the circumstances under which the talks would resume remain unclear.

"We still don't know whether it will be multi stakeholder dialogue or it will be limited to only the two parties, I mean rebels and the government. This is something we will know when we are in Addis," Lueth further said on Wednesday.

The rebel delegation in Addis said they are ready to resume talks with the government delegation when the government side arrive at the venue of the peace talks.

A rebel official, Miyong Kuon, aide to the rebel leader, said logistical arrangement presumably was a reason for the postponement of the talks. He further reaffirmed their readiness to rejoin the negotiating table at any time.

"Any delay of the talks has nothing to do with our side. However Monday is more or less ideal time. It is not even a week away," Kuon told Sudan Tribune.

An IGAD official who is not authorised to offer explanation to the media asking anonymity however told Sudan Tribune that the East African bloc has began consulting with the special envoys to release a statement of explanation.

Mediators haven't yet officially announced a new date for the resumption of talks. However, the IGAD official and rebel officials say the talks will resume on Monday, although there has yet to be any official confirmation.

The IGAD-led peace negotiations were initially supposed to resume last month, but were delayed after rebels pulled out of the talks in protest to what they alleged was IGAD's failure to include exiled civil society organisations in the multi-stakeholders meeting last month in Addis Ababa.

The civil society groups based in Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan on Tuesday concluded the selection process by electing seven representatives to participate in the peace process.

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