South Sudanese rival parties make no major progress in ongoing peace talks

May 15, 2018 (JUBA) – The latest round of regional-mediated South Sudanese peace talks ended with no progress toward a political settlement as government offensives continued in opposition-held areas.

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The High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) at the African Union Hall, Addis Ababa (Getty)

Rival parties in South Sudan’s conflict meeting in Ethiopia for consultations aimed at bridging the existing gaps, ended without a significant breakthrough, dashing hopes and sparking fears of the resumption of major attacks.

Cabinet affairs minister, Martin Elia Lomuro said the government he led participated in the consultations in “good faith” and it was up to the mediation team to sieve through positions and views of the various parties.

“It is our hope in the transitional government of national unity that this conflict comes to an end as soon possible, that we accept sharing of responsibilities so that everyone feels included. The president of the republic affirmed his commitment to ending the war through political settlement by allowing those who feel they need to be part of the government to come in and begin to make their contribution”, Lomuro told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.

The minister, however, stressed the need to expand the executive and legislative arms of the government in an effort aimed at accommodating everyone in the government instead of a lean government.

“In our view, sharing of responsibilities seek to include everyone instead of reducing the size of the cabinet and the parliament. But those in the opposition are saying something else. They are talking about lean and even proposing of people who should not participate in the government,” explained Lomuro.

The opposition is also talking of a government of technocrats, he said.

“We asked what does this mean and who these technocrats are but nobody was able to provide a clear answer and logical explanation. If they are talking of expertise, the president of the republic himself is a career officer, a professional soldier who fought in liberation wars. His entire was life was in the army. He knows inside out of the army and you know the best leaders are those who have had the opportunity and zeal to be in the army than some of us in politics,” added the minister.

According to Lomuro, the army is mandated to traverse every part of the world’s youngest nation, enabling them to meet and interacts with different people as they execute their constitutional duties.

“So all these proposals are diversionary tactics to addressing real issues and stop the war. It shows clearly that those in opposition are not for peace and people of South Sudan and the world should know it is those in the opposition who are not serious and should deal with them”, he further stressed.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) led High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) will resume in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Thursday.

On Monday, the head of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), urged South Sudanese parties at the forum to put the interest of the country first and make compromises necessary to achieve resolution of all the outstanding issues.

“This country has missed so many opportunities to make durable peace and we should not allow the HLRF [High-Level Revitalization Forum] to be squandered,” Festus Mogae told reporters in the capital, Juba.

Since the conflict in South Sudan began in December 2013 between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those allied to former first Vice President Riek Machar, tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than three million displaced as a result of the conflict.

SOURCE: SUDAN TRIBUNE

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