Addis Ababa/Juba — The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has given South Sudan's warring parties 45 days to negotiate and reach an agreement to form a transitional government of national unity.
Despite regional and international pressures, the two warring parties failed to approve a regional plan to end the eight month conflict prepared by the IGAD mediators because it prevents their leaders from running for presidency after a two-year transitional period where they supposed to co-govern the country.
The chief negotiators, Nhial Deng Nihial for the government side and Taban Deng Gai for the rebel side, signed a roadmap agreement including the security arrangements, their commitment to follow up the talks over the outstanding issues and the formation of the transitional government.
The regional bloc, at its 27th extraordinary summit held in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on Monday, also approved the protocol on agreed principles on transitional arrangements to end the ongoing conflict.
"The summit calls on the stakeholders to conclude, within six weeks, negotiation of the details necessary to fully operationalise the agreed principles on the transitional arrangements towards resolution of the crisis in South Sudan," partly reads the IGAD communiqué.
It further urged the SPLM/A-in-Opposition to immediately sign the protocol, which will lead to a new negotiated political dispensation in South Sudan.
"The summit endorses the protocol on agreed principles on transitional arrangements toward resolution of resolution of the crisis in South Sudan which will lead to a new negotiated dispensation in South Sudan and calls on the SPLM-IO to sign the protocol," the communique adds.
Machar's opposition group said they were committed to the peace process and to speedily reach to a negotiated political solution which should first address the root causes of the conflict.
"We are committed to the peace process. This is the reason our chairman Dr. Riek Machar has been at the venue of the peace talks since May," rebel leader's spokesperson James Gatdet Dak explained on Monday.
He said Machar and Kiir were together as top leaders when they differed over fundamental issues, adding that by merely bringing them back together in the same leadership or anybody else without addressing the fundamental issues would not solve the problem.
While expressing "disappointment" on the parties' failure to form a transitional government under the initial 60 days ultimatum, IGAD warned to take action against either side which fails to honour its commitments to the latest resolutions.
Any party which tries to obstruct the processes, it said, will be held responsible and will be denied participation in the future governance arrangements for South Sudan.
It called on the parties to empower their representatives to proceed without further delay and said the mediation should continue even if any stakeholder boycotted the negotiations.
Despite a number of peace deals signed between the two SPLM rival factions, to end the political crises in South Sudan, lack of commitment to implement has subjected the newly born nation further deeper into political and humanitarian crises.
Since eruption of the conflict in mid December, tens of thousands have been killed and over 1.5 million people displaced from their homes.
IGAD chair, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, in his opening speech today urged the parties to "embody and safeguard the interests and aspirations of the people of South Sudan".
The Ethiopian premier accused the two parties to the conflict of deliberately violating Cessation of Hostilities Agreement hindering the IGAD led peace process from achieving a sustainable political settlement to the crisis.
While expressing his concern over the calamitous humanitarian situation in South Sudan, Desalegn stressed the two parties shouldn't waste any more time to hear to the call of their people and serve to the interests of the people of South Sudan.
He added the prime responsibility, to avert the war and end the suffering of the people, rested on the shoulders of warring parties and warned that those who did not comply with the agreements would bear the consequences.
IGAD summit delayed until Monday over controversial S. Sudan peace plan