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ADJOURNED – Yet again, Peace talks for later date

Representatives of regional bodies and the delegates in the conference room (photo by Jale Richard):

By Jale Richard in Addis Ababa

After one week of intensive discussions, the continuation of South Sudan peace talks has been adjourned.

The IGAD Council of Ministers adjourned the continuation of the second phase of the High Level Revitalization Forum for a date to be determined later.

At the end of the church-led mediation, the parties signed recommitment to the cessation of hostilities agreement they had signed late last year. The parties also signed the reconstitution and establishment of ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM).

The parties yesterday submitted their reactions on the IGAD proposal to the mediation team. The mediators will submit it to the IGAD Council of Ministers meeting to be held in the next few days. The Council will then submit the reactions to the summit of IGAD Heads of States for further deliberation.

The Chairman of IGAD Council of Ministers and the Foreign Affairs Minister of Ethiopia, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu said the proposal given to the parties was balanced and considered the realities on the ground.

He urged the South Sudanese leaders to compromise and make realistic decisions for peace to prevail.

“Slowly but surely we are making progress. Today is better than tomorrow even if we end the day not as we expected,” he said.

Dr. Gebeyehu said even if some parties were not happy with the proposal, they believed that the proposal would address the need of South Sudanese people.

He urged the leaders to desist from inflammatory messages which would derail the momentum of the peace process.

IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan ambassador Ismail Wais encouraged the religious leaders to continue praying for the peace process and the country.

He also encouraged South Sudanese parties and stakeholders to consider the IGAD bridging proposals which he said reflected a considered effort to identify common ground between the different negotiating positions.

The Chief of Staff of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission Ambassador Behanu Kebede said even if the parties did not fully succeed in achieving the goal of the forum, there was need for compromise in the pursuit of lasting peace.

“It is time to end the suffering. You heard for yourselves the deep yearning for peace by all the people of South Sudan, which was so eloquently expressed in the voices of the representatives of the refugees. We cannot and should not turn a deaf ear to these ever widening cries and pleas for peace,” Ambassador Kebede said.

He said the bridging proposals submitted by the IGAD Council provided the best opportunity to accommodate each other through compromise and realize objective of sustainable peace.

“Even as we leave this venue let us be reminded that this is a journey yet to be completed. Time is no longer on your side and therefore you must not grow weary in your pursuits,” Amb. Kebede said

The ambassador urged the parties to assure the citizens of South Sudan that they will not relent until and unless peace becomes a reality since “nothing is more important to the citizens than the realization of a lasting and comprehensive peace.”

The Government Spokesperson Michael Makuei Lueth said they expected to continue for the next few days but IGAD decided to call off the process.

“Nevertheless the momentum is not lost completely, if we go back, some of the parties may come back with different positions, if we were to continue to utilize this momentum, probably we would have ended the talks in the next two to three days,” Makuei stated.

He called on all the forces to adhere with the Cessation of Hostilities so that conducive atmosphere is created for maintaining the momentum of the talks.



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