Few signs of progress in South Sudan peace talks

Thursday February 15 2018

Delegates at South Sudan peace talks in Ethiopia on December 21, 2017. PHOTO | ANADOLU AGENCY

Delegates at South Sudan peace talks in Ethiopia on December 21, 2017. PHOTO | ANADOLU AGENCY 

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South Sudan peace talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa show few signs of progress after nearly two weeks marked by boycotts and walkouts.

On Wednesday, the parties to the Igad-led negotiations agreed on the composition of a transitional government and security arrangements.

According to the South Sudan ambassador to Ethiopia, James Morgan, the government has agreed to incorporate armed and non-armed groups in the Transitional Government of National Unity, whose term ends in October, as soon as the talks close on February 16.

Earlier, Minister for Information Michael Makuei, who is also the government spokesperson, had stated that Juba will not accept the reconstitution of the government and the issue of two armies.

About 14 factions are in attendance in the talks officially known as the High Level Revitalisation Programme to review the stalled implementation of the 2015 South Sudan peace agreement.

In the 2015 agreement, 30 ministerial posts were divided among the government, with 16 posts, the main opposition SPLM-IO taking 10 seats while the former detainees and other political parties got two posts each.

Endless debates and numerous boycotts forced the Inter-Governmental Authority of Development (Igad) mediators to form sub-committees to discuss different issues and required written submissions to speed up the peace process.

Last week, the talks had stalled after the government delegation objected to a clause calling for punitive measures against saboteurs of the peace process.

The government refused to sign the Declaration of Principles.

Among issues being discussed, since the talks started on February 5, are the composition of the executive, parliament, security arrangements and the judicial reforms.

But observers are concerned whether all remaining issues of the 2015 peace agreement yet to be discussed will be concluded by Friday when negotiations close.