South Sudan government has pulled out of the Ethiopia peace talks.
The Council of Ministers has announced they had suspended the South Sudanese government’s participation at the peace talks in Addis Ababa with the armed opposition leadership led by former Vice-President, Riek Machar.
It requested President Salva Kiir not to travel to Ethiopia, despite mounting global pressure on him and Machar to reach their deal by Monday 17 August, and international threats of sanctions.
The acting caretaker Governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, Salva Chot Ayat, told Radio Tamazuj from Juba that the Governors’ council has passed a resolution asking the Council of Ministers to withdraw the government’s team of negotiators from the talks, “until the revels have sorted out their differences”.
The reason for withdrawal of the government team, according to the Cabinet Affairs Minister, Martin Elias Lomoro, is that Juba wants confirmation from the mediating Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) whether Machar is still in charge of the SPLM-In Opposition.
At a briefing to journalists that followed the cabinet’s meeting today, Lomoro stressed that former rebel commanders Peter Gatdet and Gathoth Gatkuoth and a group of other senior officers said they “disowned” Machar and broke away.
Last Tuesday, the former commanders accused Machar of seeking power for himself, and added that they would not recognize any deal he agreed on.
Machar reportedly arrived in the Ethiopian capital yesterday.
If the president is going to go to Addis Ababa, Lomoro said after the meeting on Friday, “he must go with clear mind as to who he is going to meet and negotiate with.”
Governors of the ten states were also attending the meeting in Juba to consult with President Salva Kiir.
Lomoro told reporters that they first want to be briefed by the returning chief negotiator, Nhial Deng Nhial, and stakeholders “on what they have reached so far in the talks.”
The IGAD mediators, backed by US President Barack Obama during his recent visit to Ethiopia, gave Kiir and Machar until August 17 to agree on a peace deal.
Obama has warned Kiir and Machar that if they failed to strike a deal coming Monday, the US will “move forward with a different plan, and recognize that those leaders are incapable of creating the peace that is required.”
Louis Lobong, Governor of Eastern Equatoria, dismissed the threat of sanctions saying, “in peace talks, you don’t give condition, you don’t give intimidation,” he told reporters.
IGAD’s chief mediator, Seyoum Mesfin, had said that negotiators would not be allowed to leave the venue of the talks in Addis Ababa without signing a peace agreement on 17 August.
Anti-peace deal protest in Kiir home town
Pro-government civil society groups rallied in Kuacjok the capital of President Salva Kiir’s home state Warrap on Thursday urging the government not to sign the ‘compromise peace deal’ proposed by IGAD mediators and instead to reject it.
The rally comes shortly ahead of the 17 August deadline set by peace mediators and just before Kiir was scheduled to travel to Addis Ababa to negotiate with his counterpart Riek Machar.
The protesters urged the government delegation not to sign a deal with Riek Machar.
School authorities in the state capital organized to ensure that pupils showed up to the rally.
Speaking on Thursday at the rally near the State Assembly, the state chairman of civil society rejected and condemned the IGAD proposal.