August 09, 2014(Nyamilepdia) — After consultations, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development(IGAD), has agreed to restrict South Sudan peace talks to the two warring factions of the ruling party, the SPLM-Juba and the SPLM in opposition.
According to this modality, the new roundtable will be limited to direct talks between the government of South Sudan and the SPLM/SPLA under Dr. Riek Machar. The main principals are the signatories of May 9th Agreement, Dr. Riek Machar Teny and Salva Kiir Mayardiit. This will exclude the former detainees, other political parties, faith based groups and civil societies.
Sources from Addis Ababa confirm that the other stakeholders will only contribute through IGAD or directly to the parties.
“The IGAD mediators or envoys have finally agree on the question of bilateral talks between the SPLM/SPLA and the Government of Salva Kiir mean while, other political parties, CSOs, faith base and G10[Former Detainees] shall either contribute through IGAD envoys/mediators or directly to the parties if need be” Puot Kang Chol stated.
This approach was adopted following the no-show of the armed opposition, the SPLM/SPLA, during the current round of negotiation. On two consecutive days, the members of SPLM/SPLA in opposition failed to show up at the talks despite the overwhelming pressure from IGAD, U.S. Secretary of states, John Kerry, and other partners.
The former vice president, Dr. Machar, reiterates the commitment of his leadership to IGAD led peace talks, however, Machar believes that IGAD must utilize resources on a less diverse parties with intent to narrow the agenda to causes of the conflict.
“peace talks mean solving differences between warring parties. I accept the IGAD mandate and their obligation to bring peace to Republic of South Sudan”. Dr. Riek Machar said.
Dr. Machar acknowledges the important of having multi-stakeholders in the process but he argues that the warring parties must be allowed to resolve the causes of the conflict before moving to the broad and inclusive forward stage, the formation of transitional government of national unity.
“but talks must deal with the warring parties first, so as to resolve the cause of the crisis to address an inclusive way forward.” Machar continued.
According to the Secretary of State, John Kerry, who sides with president Salva Kiir in Washington, the talks should be inclusive and rather address the forward stage of forming a Government of National Unity.
Kerry, who believes that Salva Kiir is legitimate, elected and a dully president, suggests that it is the South Sudanese people and the mediation process that will bring peace to the country.
“Well, with respect to the transition government, ultimately it is up to the people of South Sudan. And it is up to an inclusive process which brings the civil society to the table and reaches out to political opposition and to all of the different stakeholders in South Sudan to shape that.” Kerry said in Juba, 3 months ago
“So it’s really up for the process itself to take shape as the stakeholders and as the people of South Sudan speak up and speak out and demand a certain kind of participation. What’s important is that that participation is promised and it is available.” Kerry continued.
On the other hand, the political parties and other “stakeholders” have disappointingly objected the exclusive roundtable. According to Dr. Lam Akol, the new approach will only prolong the conflicts and the suffering of the South Sudanese people.
“Little did the South Sudanese know that the warring parties were up again at their delaying tactics while our people continue to die daily as a result of the war they have imposed on the South Sudanese for nothing other than fighting over power”, Akol said.
Dr. Lam has been loosely participating in the peace talks as a member of government delegation but he believes that he was representing the opposition parties. This is no longer the case.
During the new arrangements, Dr. Lam, secured positions for the political parties and subsequently pulled out of the government delegation to lead the political parties as separate stakeholders, however, he is now challenged by the warring factions.
Lam blames the government for “back-tracking” in support of exclusive mediation, a decision that consumes the SPLM-DC chairman.
“In other words, the government delegation has back-tracked from its position a day earlier and come out clearly against multi-stakeholders format” Dr. Lam said.
“We totally reject this misguided notion. We believe that South Sudan belongs to all its citizens and all of them have a fundamental right to be part of any process that shapes the future of their country”. Lam continued.
The opposition leader claims that the bilateral talks between the most grieved SPLM parties classify the nation into first and second class citizens.
“By insisting on bilateral talks between them, the two warring parties are in effect dividing the people of South Sudan into first class and second class citizens in determining their future. The two parties are arrogating to themselves the right to decide on behalf of the people simply because they carry guns, and those who do not are to accept their whims,” the opposition leader stressed in his statement.
“We must all together demonstrate our resolve that South Sudan will not and cannot be held at ransom by anybody, group of people or party. Our people are yearning for peace and peace they deserve and must get. As political parties, we shall spare no effort to see that the IGAD mediation is crowned with success”, Lam strongly emphasized.
Other stakeholders are yet to respond to this decision, however, most of the political parties hardly influence decision making in the country for the last few years, which is one of the reasons that drove politicians like Dr. Lam into exile for years.