Government and opposition not yet in direct consultations in Ethiopia: Official

SPLM-IO delegates and the Opposition Alliance in Addis Ababa Ethiopia on Saturday 12th May 2018 (Photo credit: The Nyamilepedia)

SPLM-IO delegates and the Opposition Alliance in Addis Ababa Ethiopia on Saturday 12th May 2018 (Photo credit: The Nyamilepedia)

May 12th 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – Delegates of the South Sudan armed and non armed opposition groups and that of the government of president Salva Kiir are yet to engage in a direct peace consultations in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, senior armed opposition movement official told the Nyamilepedia on Saturday.

Manawa Peter Gatkouth, senior SPLM-IO official and one of the delegates representing the SPLM-IO in the Addis Ababa peace consultations told the Nyamilepedia Saturday that the opposition groups are not in direct consultations with the government delegates.

“We are not currently in direct consultations with the government delegations,” he told the Nyamilepedia.

He revealed that SPLM-IO representatives and those representing groups that make up the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) are in the same hall and the IGAD mediation team is the one moving between their hall and that of the government.

“We have been divided into different halls by the mediation. Our team and that of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) are in the same hall and the government in their own hall and the IGAD members of the team are moving between us (opposition and the government) but we haven’t started a direct talks with the government delegation.

The opposition official revealed that their team includes the SPLM-IO deputy chairman Henry Odwar, head of the SPLM-IO national committee for security and defense Angelina Teny, SPLA-IO deputy chief of staff for operations Cdr. James Koang Chuol, Commander Gatkhor Gatluak, the SPLM-IO representative to the African Union and SPLM-IO Youth League leader Pout Kang Chuol.

The high-ranking opposition official revealed to the Nyamilepedia that IGAD foreign ministers informed them that they will be travelling to Pretoria in South Africa to meet their leader on Monday.

SPLM-IO leader, Riek Machar, has been under house arrest since October 2016 after the regional bloc reportedly asked South African authorities to detain him from leaving the country reportedly in hope to prevent him from taking part in the political crisis in South Sudan in order to stop the war but but in contrary, the war has been raging on since then.

In March, the IGAD decided to release him but the planned release has some demands attached to it which the opposition said do not make sense. The IGAD said Machar must first renounce violence in order to be relocated to one of the country outside the region (neighboring countries). For their part, the opposition said their group under Machar has already signed a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement with the government; something they said shows their group is not interested in violent meant of solving the current crisis.

However, the opposition official did not revealed what the IGAD foreign ministers will discuss with the opposition leader.

South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 after forces loyal to the country’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardiit and his then Governor of Northern Bahr Al-Ghazal State Gen. Paul Malong Awan went door-to-door in the capital Juba killing civilians belonging to the Nuer ethnic group sparking a nation-wide protests from top army generals from the Nuer leading to a civil war.

A peace agreement signed in August 2015 by President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar and negotiated under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) in presence of Troika and other international observers collapsed in July 2016 following fighting at the presidential palace in Juba “J1” reportedly after President Kiir ordered a failed attempt to arrest the SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar.

Late last year, the IGAD decided to revive the peace agreement and had initiated a peace revival mechanism known as the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) to bring back to life the 2015 peace agreement. Previous rounds of the HLRF has been unsuccessful and the IGAD said it expect the warring parties to negotiate on the last round of talks on 17th of May.

Representatives of the negotiating parties are currently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia after the mediation invited them for consultations.