Declaration of principles expected at South Sudan talks
March 30, 2014(Addis Ababa) — The two sides to the peace talks in South Sudan, the government and the armed opposition led by Riek Machar, reached full agreement on Sunday on the agenda and guiding principles for the negotiations.
This came after a meeting between the parties lasting for several hours without the presence of the mediation.
Hussein Mar, spokesman of the SPLM/A opposition faction led by Machar, explained in an interview that the two sides agreed fully on the guiding principles and agenda, adding that he expected the documents could be signed on Monday.
“I’d like to confirm that two sides in the negotiations, the government and the SPLM, we agreed on the declaration of general principles, and also we agreed on the agenda of the negotiations, which is the first and second agendas,” he said.
The former deputy governor added, “After that we sent the documents to IGAD and God willing tomorrow if everything goes as we agreed maybe IGAD can have us sign the declaration of principles and agenda.”
For his part, the government’s foreign minister Barnaba Marial issued a statement saying the government would like to make a comprehensive national reconciliation, in order to save lives and restore peace and security in the country.
He called on the rebels led by Riek Machar not to put up obstacles and impossible conditions during the current round of negotiations in Addis Ababa, and to work to make it a success for the benefit of the people of South Sudan.
SPLM-G7 representative Deng Alor, however, affirmed that the state was collapsing and he questioned the government’s ability to conduct reconciliation between communities and tribes of South Sudan.
In an interview with Radio Tamazuj on Sunday, the former cabinet minister said that the only solution out of the crisis was formation of a new interim government, a proposal which has been rejected by the current government of Salva Kiir.
He referred to an “attempted ethnic cleansing of the Nuer tribe committed by the government,” saying the current government could no longer unite the country.
Although the ‘group of seven’ has been sidelined from the opening of the negotiations, Alor emphasized that IGAD had already insisted on the participation of the SPLM-G7 in the peace talks since a long time ago.
For now, he said, the group agreed not to join because the first agenda items had to do with the cessation of hostilities, a matter not concerning the SPLM leaders because they don’t claim to control any forces on the ground.