Ethiopia: IGAD Summit set to bolster South Sudan peace talks

posted in: Africa

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) – East African leaders are set to meet President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar today to bolster the peace talks to end the fighting in South Sudan, officials said Monday.

The South Sudanese rebel leader, who recently visited Nairobi for talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, is already in Addis Ababa ahead of the talks.

President Kiir is expected to attend the Summit alongside the rebel chief.

“This time they are not just meeting with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia alone. They (Kiir and Machar) will do their consultations in the presence of the other leaders,” said Hussein Mar Nyuot, a spokesperson for Machar’s camp.

“This is due to be the first meeting since the signing of the 9 May agreement. We still do not know the agenda but it is a meeting to push things in South Sudan,” Mar Nyuot said.

The Summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) will also discuss recommendations of a preliminary report to be presented to the African Union Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, according to a source.

The report prepared for the AU Summit by the former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo will be discussed in Malabo.

The South Sudanese government and the armed opposition signed the 9 May agreement in Addis Ababa to end fighting which has raged since December.

The peace agreement set the stage for the negotiations on an interim government and a new constitution for South Sudan.

The agreement also pledges the effective cooperation of both sides with the investigations into the atrocities in Bentiu and other parts of South Sudan.

Earlier, the warring sides attended a meeting by regional mediators to discuss the security sector reforms required to stop South Sudan from falling back into another crisis.

The weekend talks were attended by political parties, religious leaders and tribal elders in an effort to make the peace talks more inclusive.

The rebels said they were counting on the IGAD summit to bring more meaning to the peace talks.

“We expected President Kiir to send a message of peace after signing the peace document but it looks like he did not welcome the agreement,” Mar Nyuot said.

“He watered it down by claiming that it was signed under duress. He created the ground for the violations that occurred afterwards,” Mar Nyuot said.

The chief mediators say the South Sudanese must stop all actions on the ground that undermine the talks.

“It is not too late to end bloodshed and find peace for all of Sudanese. We need to build trust,” said Lazarus Sumbeiywo, IGAD Special Envoy, one of the chief mediators.

“We not only have an opportunity but an obligation to find the way forward,” Sumbeiywo said.