May 15th 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – High-level meeting between Dr. Riek Machar Teny, prominent South Sudanese opposition leader of the armed opposition movement SPLM-IO, and IGAD foreign ministers conducted today, Tuesday, failed because the two sides could not agree over IGAD’s relocation plan, high-ranking opposition official told the Nyamilepedia on Tuesday.
On Saturday, opposition delegates at the peace consultative meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa told the Nyamilepedia that the IGAD informed them that a delegation of the regional bloc’s foreign ministers will travel to the South African city of Pretoria to meet their boss to discuss with him the next round of the High-Level Revitalization Forum due to kick-off on Thursday, 17th May 2018.
In an exclusive interview with the Nyamilepedia this afternoon, Manawa Peter Gatkuoth, a member of the SPLM-IO Political Bureau and a member of the group’s negotiating team in Addis Ababa, said the meeting had failed due to IGAD’s insistence to relocate Machar to Djibouti which the later regarded as a change of ‘prison cell’.
“The meeting between our Chairman and the IGAD Council of Ministers did not go well,” Gatkuoth said pointing out that “the council is still insisting on relocation [of Machar] to Djibouti instead of release,”
He revealed that Machar told the IGAD delegation that he would like to relocate to the venue of talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in case of release by the regional body to physically participate in the peace process.
“Our Chairman made it straight to them that with release, he will wish to relocate to the seat of the peace process Addis Ababa to physically participate in the HLRF,” he revealed adding that “Otherwise the relocation means a change of jail cell.
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.
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.