South Sudan Peace Talks Suspended Again
By Lucy Poni
March 31, 2014(NAIROBI) — South Sudan’s slow-moving peace talks have been suspended again, this time at the request of mediators from the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), an opposition official said Monday.
“They said they want to go and consult with the heads of IGAD and they will give us a break of one month up to the 30th of April,” Hussein Maar Nyuot, a spokesman for opposition negotiators at the talks in Addis Ababa, told VOA.
When the talks reconvene, opposition and government negotiators will sign an agenda and declaration of principles, before getting down to the business of hammering out a peace deal, Maar Nyuot said.
IGAD officials declined to comment on the new adjournment but said they would release a statement later Monday.
The government side at the talks said it will comment once the IGAD statement has been released.
Maar Nyuot said that during the break of several weeks the parties will share the statement of principles with interested parties. The opposition spokesman said they will work to resolve outstanding issues that have prevented the talks from getting off the ground, including whether seven former political detainees should be included in the negotiations.
The anti-government negotiators have also protested Uganda’s inclusion as an observer at the talks, claiming that troops from Uganda – South Sudan’s southern neighbor – are fighting alongside government forces.
The two opposing sides in South Sudan’s conflict signed a cessation of hostilities agreement in late January, before the first round of talks ended. But what was supposed to be an immediate ceasefire, with both sides ordering their troops to stop fighting, never took hold.
The second round of talks has struggled to get under way, even as fighting continued almost unabated in South Sudan at the cost of thousands of lives, devastation around the country, and more than a million people being forced from their homes.