8 August 2014

South Sudan: Political Parties Object Restriction From Peace Talks

Juba — South Sudanese political parties have objected a proposal seeking to limit the ongoing peace talks to the country's two conflicting parties, accusing the warring sides of adopting a divisive approach to resolving the conflict.

Lam Akol, the leader of all South Sudanese opposition parties, said the latest round of talks in the Ethiopian capital, was convened with the full understanding that all parties have agreed on a multi-stakeholder roundtable peace talks as the format to bring about just and sustainable peace to the war in the country.

"Little did the South Sudanese know that the warring parties were up again at their delaying tactics while our people continue to die daily as a result of the war they have imposed on the South Sudanese for nothing other than fighting over power", Akol said in a statement Sudan Tribune obtained.

The opposition leader insisted that Sudan People's Liberation in opposition delegation demanded that negotiations with their government counterparts take place without direct participation of other stakeholders.

On its part, however, the government delegation said it would not take part in any meeting of stakeholders that excludes the opposition.

"The position of the government delegation became clearer on Wednesday when the Leader of their delegation delivered a letter to the special envoys that they be given opportunity to engage with SPLM/A-I-O delegation and that whatever they agree on need not be reported to the plenary of all the stakeholders as contained in the summary consensus on the format and agenda of the talks," said Akol.

"In other words, the government delegation has back-tracked from its position a day earlier and come out clearly against multi-stakeholders format", added the opposition leader.

He accused the rival warring parties of adopting divisive approach to resolving the conflict he said was imposed on the people and the country over power struggle within the ruling party.

"By insisting on bilateral talks between them, the two warring parties are in effect dividing the people of South Sudan into first class and second class citizens in determining their future. The two parties are arrogating to themselves the right to decide on behalf of the people simply because they carry guns, and those who do not are to accept their whims," the opposition leader stressed in his statement.

It adds, "We totally reject this misguided notion. We believe that South Sudan belongs to all its citizens and all of them have a fundamental right to be part of any process that shapes the future of their country".

According to Akol, the necessity for participation of the other stakeholders in the talks because the problem being discussed did not start on the 15th of December 2013 but that was just a spark.

"The problems are deeply rooted in the way this land mass called South Sudan was misgoverned since 2005. Both parties to the current armed conflict and the resulting crisis were together in charge for eight years since then, and it is an abuse to the intelligence of our people for them to think that they alone can be trusted to sort out the mess they created", he argued.

He however maintained that the way forward was to adhere to the multi-stakeholder roundtable format as the only way to conduct the talks and ensure that talks are convened immediately with the stakeholders who are ready to take part.

"We must all together demonstrate our resolve that South Sudan will not and cannot be held at ransom by anybody, group of people or party. Our people are yearning for peace and peace they deserve and must get. As political parties, we shall spare no effort to see that the IGAD mediation is crowned with success", he stressed.

REBELS REFUTE CLAIMS

Meanwhile rebels led by former vice-president Riek Machar refuted "assertion" by the mediators that the group had backtracked from their commitment to the inclusive stakeholders peace process, saying this was a mere "misrepresentation".

In a press statement by the rebels' information and public relations chairperson, Mabior Garang de Mabior released on Wednesday, the opposition group reiterated their position for direct bilateral negotiations with the government.

The mediators, in a press release issued on 5 August, announced that the SPLM/A in opposition failed to attend the peace talks and urged them to return to the negotiation table.

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