East Africa: South Sudan Rebel Leader Proposes Change of Tack in Mediation Talks

Refugee from Central Equatoria

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar has proposed that mediators of the peace process change tack and adopt the model that led to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

Dr Machar said the agreement, which led to the secession of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011, allowed the warring parties to discuss amongst themselves how to solve their issues as mediators recorded areas of agreement.

The Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) chief offered his views during a face-to-face meeting with President Salva Kiir on Wednesday night convened by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali in Addis Ababa.

The proposal was made public by SPLM-IO spokesman Mabior Garang de Mabior.

"The current model, with its various workshops, though they are very informative, is unrealistic, as it is not for lack of technical experts that there is war in the country, nor will the workshops stop the war," read the statement signed by Mabior.

Mr Mabior said SPLM-IO has requested for more time to address the deep-seated causes of the conflict saying "any honest approach to resolving this, apart from good will, requires time".

President Kiir's government had not responded to Dr Machar's proposals as the two leaders entered another closed-door meeting on Thursday afternoon.

"The meeting targets at closing the gap on governance and security dockets," SPLM-IO spokesman in Tanzania, Mr Peter Kleto, said from the Ethiopian capital.

"We are committed to a negotiated settlement of the conflict because our people have suffered a lot," he added.

Outcomes

The outcomes of the first face-to-face meeting in nearly two years on Wednesday night, between the two leaders at the centre of the South Sudan civil war, now in its fifth year, are still under wraps.

According to sources close to the talks, the meeting at the Ethiopian PM's office went on beyond midnight, details of which were reviewed by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) Council of Ministers early Thursday before forwarding their resolutions to the bloc's heads of state.

The Igad leaders are also met in Addis Ababa on Thursday evening.

Dr Abiy, the Igad chairman, led the talks attended by Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, the rapporteur, and Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, a key stakeholder in the South Sudan peace process and Djibouti's Ismail Guelleh.

Dr Abiy said the meeting was intended push the South Sudanese leaders to commit to achieving lasting peace and stability.

Analysts say the attempts by the two to resolve their political differences in a non-violent manner has raised some hope.

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