South Sudan Council of Churches have not taken over mediation: official

Hon. Manawa Peter Gatkuoth (File photo)

Hon. Manawa Peter Gatkuoth (File photo)

May 20th May 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – Religious leaders representing the South Sudan Council of Churches at the peace talks in the Ethiopian Capital Addis Ababa have not taken over the mediation from the Intergovernmenral Authority on Development (IGAD), high-ranking opposition official told the Nyamilepedia on Sunday from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

The denial came days after some reports in the media allegged that the South Sudan Council of Churches took over the mediation from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Talks resumed on Thursday after a long delay and prior adjournments from the regional body.

In statement to the Nyamilepedia, Manawa Pet Gatkouth, a senior opposition official of the SPLM-IO under the leadership of the country’s former first vice president Riek Machar and a member of the group’s negotiating team in the Addis talks, said the rumors on the social are untrue and the talks is still being mediated by the regional body, IGAD.

“The white lies flying on social media that South Sudan Council of Churches have taken over mediation from IGAD is baseless and unfounded. The South Sudan Council of Churches are not mediators, they are facilitators on one of the sessions on outstanding issues on ARCRSS chapters 1 and 2; their roles is not inventing new wheels nor an hijack of High Level Revitalization Forum,” he said from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

He said their group is committed to the IGAD peace process and not to any other mediation saying they will remain committed unless the regional body would give up on their committment to bring peace back to South Sudan.

“We are committted to the IGAD peace process and non other until their energy, efforts is irreparably exhausted in search for durable peace in South Sudan.” he said.

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. Peace talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa resumed on Thursday with little optimism as President Kiir said he is unwilling to accept the return of the country’s former first vice president and two armies both of whom are major opposition demands.

The IGAD has given the negotiating parties May 21st as the ultimatum to sign peace but it is still unclear what would be the consequences in case the warring parties do not meet the dateline.