March 05, 2014 (JUBA) — A high-level internal reconciliation initiative within the SPLM is expected to start today or tomorrow in Addis Ababa as negotiations between the government and opposition forces remain stalled.
Luka Biong, a member of the National Liberation Council of the SPLM and a former minister in the Office of the President, told Radio Tamazuj that the reconciliation will be facilitated by representatives of the ruling parties of Ethiopia (EPRDF) and South Africa (ANC) as they have experiences relevant to the current crisis in the SPLM.
The initiative was referred to by IGAD mediators in their statement on Monday, disclosing that “a team of SPLM leadership will convene shortly, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to develop an agenda, modalities, and timeframe for Review and Self-Assessment of the SPLM.”
Envoys for the regional body IGAD chaired by the Ethiopian Prime Minister further pointed to “the need for an SPLM intra-party dialogue, and the positive contribution it could make to the broader political dialogue and national reconciliation.”
According to Biong, the party chairman Salva Kiir has appointed a preparatory committee to discuss the agenda for the next meeting of the SPLM Political Bureau. The committee includes Taban Deng, the main negotiator of the opposition forces, who is charged with treason.
Four members of the SPLM Political Bureau are set to arrive from Juba – Daniel Awet, Paul Mayom, Akol Paul, and Jemma Nunu, representing the group still aligned with Kiir, while the other four already in Addis Ababa – Deng Alor, John Luk, Kosti Manibe and Taban Deng – are either part of the opposition or the so-called ‘third party’.
Former minister of cabinet affairs Luka Biong suggested the new move will try to address the crisis in South Sudan through reconciliation within the SPLM. “Civil society organizations and other political parties should make sure that their voices are heard in setting the agenda for the SPLM Political Bureau,” he added.
Trial of four detainees
The trial of four detainees, including former SPLM secretary general Pagan Amum, and the former chief of staff, Oyay Deng, together with Majak Agoot and Ezekiel Lul is expected to begin on 10 March in Juba.
Luka Biong assumes that the detainees do not have resources to hire competent lawyers except few national lawyers who volunteer.
“As President Salva has shown a commitment to reconciliation within the SPLM as reflected in his appointment of Taban Deng, who stands as well to be tried for treason charges, we expect him to show the same commitment and spirit to the release of the four detainees,” he said.
He urges “civil society organizations and peace-loving people of South Sudan and the world to call for clemency from President Salva to release Pagan, Oyay, Majak and Ezekiel for sake of peace, reconciliation and stability in South Sudan.”
“Whatever effort you can exert for the release of the four detainees will be a big service not only to the families of the detainees but also to the peace and stability in South Sudan,” Luka Biong says.
Biong is currently a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. He is now in Addis Ababa to advise on the meetings.
- Radio Tamazuj