South Sudan

Storm Over SPLM-G7 Faction At Addis Talks

find geneva; font-size: small;”>Addressing journalists in Juba yesterday, the chief negotiator, Nhial Deng, said the controversy sparked off as government tried to exclude the SPLM-G7 faction from the talks.

In a statement, Deng says “one main outstanding issue between us and the rebels is basically what issues should we discuss now as two warring parties, and what issues are best left to a broader gathering of all the other political forces?”

“We have taken the view that it’s important for us to look at the issues that have got direct relevance and bearing on a permanent ceasefire, because we are demanding the permanent ceasefire to be one of the agenda items,” continued Deng in a statement.

“So we are ready to discuss issues that are related to a permanent ceasefire, but there are certain issues that we think are best discussed in the context of a broader dialogue that will bring in all the other political forces, civil society, indeed all the stakeholders. But the rebels hold the position that they would want everything to be discussed at the table of negotiations in Addis.”

He further said that the delegations are still working their way to forging maybe closer consensus on these outstanding issues.

“We are supposed to report to Addis on the 22nd of April and then resume the negotiations on the 23rd.”

“Well, we are cautiously optimistic because as I said,” pursued Deng, adding, “we have made some progress, although it is modest progress, but I think it’s good that at least we have agreed on the outlines of an agenda, what to discuss.”

The issue of the seven detainees, according to Deng, is on it’s way to being resolved, because it has been an obstacle – “we have spent quite a lot of time not actually negotiating directly with the other side simply because it was felt by IGAD and the mediators that the detainees should play a role”.

“We accept that the detainees have a role to play, but we think that role can only be played alongside other political forces and when issues that are of relevance to the detainees are being discussed. But now we would like the talks to be restricted to the two sides, the government and the rebel group, because you need to restore peace as soon as possible, you need to stop the fighting and the bloodletting, and this can only be done by the parties that are carrying weapons, and these are the two warring sides.”

The former detainees have other forums in which they can be engaged, and as a matter of fact as “we left Addis the launch was made of the intra-SPLM dialogue, you know, so that’s a separate forum”.

And the former detainees as senior members of the SPLM have the possibility to use that forum in order to discuss whatever grievances they have.

“But now IGAD’s position is softening a little bit, I mean IGAD has now indicated a willingness to accept that the current phase of the negotiations be confined to the warring parties and perhaps bringing in the former detainees and other stakeholders at a later stage.”

Source: Radio Tamazuj


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