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OPTIMISTIC – We will agree in the next peace talks

Michael Makuei Lueth, (Juba Monitor file pohto):

By Jale Richard

The government has expressed optimism that it would reach an agreement with the opposition groups in the next phase of the South Sudan peace talks.

Speaking on Friday upon arrival from the IGAD Council of Ministers meeting, Government Spokesperson Michael Makuei Lueth said the High Level Revitalization Forum will be given the last opportunity.

“There another meeting and the mediation will come up with a revised draft. It is that revised draft that we are going to discuss. The date is not yet fixed but we will go and discuss it thereafter, in case we agree that is very good and I am optimistic that we will agree,” he told journalists.

“In case there is any disagreement on some of the issues they will be taken to the Heads of States and government’s summit,” he added.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional security and trade bloc trying to broker an end to the four-year civil war last week recommended President Salva Kiir to meet the main rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar as a step to reviving the peace process.

The meeting between Kiir and Riek Machar should take place before an African Union summit early July in Mauritania, the IGAD Council of Ministers said.

Makuei said the recommendation that President Salva Kiir should meet Dr. Riek Machar, his former First Vice President was just a proposal and it was up to the two parties to decide whether to meet or not.

“This is just a proposal because council of ministers cannot pass a resolution directing the President to meet with (Machar) that is not possible so it is a mere proposal and it is up to the president or to the two parties to decide as to whether they will meet or not,” Makuei said.

The IGAD meeting came a day after President Salva Kiir and Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed met in Addis Ababa amid growing international and regional pressure for peace in South Sudan. They discussed South Sudan government’s position on the recent peace proposal by IGAD.

On Thursday the U.N. Security Council voted to renew some sanctions on South Sudan through to mid-July and to consider imposing travel bans and asset freezes on six South Sudanese leaders if the country’s conflict did not stop by June 30.

The resolution said absent a cessation of hostilities by June 30, the council would consider freezing the assets and banning travel for six officials, including Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk, former army chief Paul Malong, Minister of Information Michael Lueth, and deputy chief of defense for logistics in the South Sudan Army Malek Reuben Riak Rengu.

It also targeted Koang Rambang, governor of Bieh State, who the United States accused of leading military attacks and obstructing aid to civilians; and cabinet affairs minister Martin Elia Lomuro.

“This is simply because they failed to get the majority they need and they want to give themselves time so that they can campaign hoping that by then they may get the majority they need. They are not giving us the opportunity to do whatever,” Makuei said last Friday.

Last month, IGAD unveiled a “Bridging Proposal” on power sharing and security arrangement but the opposition groups immediately rejected it saying it was rewarding the government by allocating it the biggest share of power sharing. The government also said it was not satisfied with some of the provisions in the proposal.




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