Sun, Nov 09, 2014 - Page 6 News List

S Sudan factions hit with ultimatum on peace talks


South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar were given 15 days to reach an accord on ending violence in the country, after two days of talks brokered by regional leaders.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is ready to impose sanctions or “directly intervene” in South Sudan if no agreement is achieved, the east African group said in a statement late on Friday after the meetings in Addis Ababa. Talks focused on sharing power through steps including creating a post of prime minister.

Conflict erupted in December last year in Africa’s newest nation when a power struggle within the ruling party turned violent. After Kiir arrested rivals for allegedly plotting a coup and ethnic Nuer accused soldiers loyal to the president of targeting them, commanders rebelled in three states. Machar, formerly Kiir’s deputy and a Nuer, fled the capital and became a rebel leader.

IGAD head mediator Seyoum Mesfin told reporters that the group is confident the accord can be reached within the specified period, because the leaders have agreed on most power-sharing issues and need the extra time mainly to “bring onboard” other constituencies.

The violence has left thousands of people dead and displaced almost 2 million, according to the UN. Fighting resumed in recent weeks in Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity states as seasonal rains have eased.

If the leaders cannot agree, IGAD countries, which include Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, are ready to “send troops, fight the intransigents and those violating, and protect the lives of the people of South Sudan,” Seyoum said.

The parties agreed yesterday to observe an immediate cessation of hostilities and stop recruiting civilians or risk facing actions that might include asset freezes, travel bans and an arms embargo, according to the IGAD statement.

“The people of South Sudan will hopefully wake up to peace and quiet for a change,” Kenyan Secretary of Foreign Affairs Amina Mohamed said yesterday on Twitter.

Machar said in an interview on Friday that there is agreement on “a text to establish the transitional government of national unity, particularly identifying the powers of the president and powers of the prime minister.”

South Sudan Minister of Information Michael Makuei Lueth, part of the government’s negotiating team, said there is still no agreement on the powers of the prime minister.

“We cannot give the prime minister executive power,” Lueth said. “This is the area of disagreement.”

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