DEADLOCK – Talks extended for two more days
Delegates of the Transitional Government of National Unity (photo by Jale Richard):
By Jale Richard in Addis Ababa
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development [IGAD] mediating the South Sudan’s peace process has extended the talks for two more days after the parties failed to reach compromises within the scheduled days.
The talks were scheduled to end yesterday.
Through the Church-led intra South Sudanese talks, the Parties have only made little progress on governance and security arrangement after five days of the peace talks. They disagreed on several of the outstanding issues as some of the parties maintained their previous positions.
Government spokesperson Michael Makuei Lueth told journalists after yesterday’s session that there was some progress made in governance as well as security arrangement.
He said the Leadership Committee presented a document to the parties to be signed and initialed today (Tuesday) together with another document on permanent ceasefire and transitional security arrangement.
Regarding security arrangement, the parties agreed on some articles on cantonment of forces. However, they have not agreed on the timeline for cantonment. The opposition demanded 18 months for integration of the forces, while the government wanted 6 months.
Makuei said on governance all the five points had not been agreed on by the parties apart from “some minor progress on the presidential system, and 35 percent for women.”
Peter Mayen Majongdit, representing the Umbrella Group of eight opposition political parties blamed the slow progress on lack of political will from the delegates.
“So far it is very unfortunate that the committee on governance could not reach any agreement at all. Neither in the composition of the government, nor in the number of states, neither in the responsibility sharing, and nor in the composition of the parliament,” Mayen said.
He added that the parties had been reiterating their previous positions which had been tabled since the start of the second phase.
“The major challenge in reality is the lack of political will to compromise and to find a possibility of how to narrow the gap because every party wants to stick to its position,” Mayen said. “If you look at the consultations that were done earlier by the IGAD team, it is the same proposals that were there in the consultations and they are the same positions that are still being proposed by the parties. None of the parties moved closer to compromise on the issues,” he added.
Last evening, the leadership headed by the archbishop of Episcopal Church of South Sudan Justin Badi Arama briefed the IGAD Council of Ministers on the progress made.
The IGAD mediation taskforce allowed South Sudan Council of Churches to facilitate South Sudanese delegates discuss among themselves in a bid to build confidence and possibly make progress on contentious issues on the agenda of the peace talks.
Three committees were constituted to handle the talks: leadership committee, security sub-committee and governance subcommittee. Each subcommittee discusses its issues and reports to the leadership committee.
In general, all the committees have made little progress.
The IGAD Council of Ministers will receive a briefing from the Church leaders today and then decide on the next step.
Delegates of South Sudan Opposition Alliance