March 19, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) — The international community says it is running out of patience with the progress of the South Sudan peace negotiations. The talks between South Sudan’s government and rebel forces have dragged on for nearly three months, with little progress except for an often-violated cease-fire agreement. A new round of talks are scheduled to start Thursday.
South Sudan might face consequences from the international community, if the involved parties do not take the peace negotiations more seriously.
United States special envoy to South Sudan Donald Booth issued that warning Wednesday, on behalf of Britain, Norway and the European Union. He said that greater efforts are needed from the fighting parties.
“If the government or any other actor tried to undermine the peace process and rebuff the IGAD heads of state, they will face consequences,” he said. “The people of South Sudan expect renewal, they expect their voices to be heard in forging a more sustainable peace. Business as usual is not a viable way forward.”
Peace talks mediated by the East African bloc IGAD, are set to continue Thursday in Addis Ababa.
But South Sudan’s government said this week that it would not send a delegation to the talks, if pro-rebel political figures the government detained for several weeks are a part of the process.
The opposition side, meanwhile, has voiced concerns about the stabilization and protection force that IGAD’s member states are planning to send to South Sudan next month.
EU special envoy to the Horn of Africa Alexander Rondos warns sanctions could be placed on anyone who blocks progress toward peace.
“The European Union reiterates that it stands ready with targeted, restricted measures against individuals obstructing the political process, in support of the AU and IGAD, and IGAD efforts and in close coordination with IGAD partners,” he said. “That obviously means that our system certainly is beginning to look at more, other type of measures that would be relevant for this particular situation.”
Fighting between supporters and opponents of President Salva Kiir broke out in mid-December, killing thousands in battles across the country. A ceasefire was signed in January, but the violence continues.
Hundreds of thousands of people remain displaced amid warnings South Sudan could face a famine unless farmers feel safe enough to return to their homes and plant their fields.