The South Sudan government demanded the removal of Ethiopian chief mediator Seyoum Mesfin after accusing him of pursuing “regime change” at the behest of the Troika members of the US, UK and Norway.
Government spokesman Micheal Makuei Lueth told BBC’s Focus on Africa program on Tuesday that the former Ethiopian foreign minister was so weak and for “being influenced that easily by others” naming the Troika members.
He further accused the Troika member states of trying to force “regime change” and being “responsible for the beginning of the crisis” in South Sudan.
Micheal Makuei Lueth also demands the relocation of the venue for the talks, that currently taking place in Ethiopia, to Kenya.
Lueth said, “We are appealing to the region and especially the Kenyan government. Kenya is the centre for everything here in the region. This is where our message should be carried from.”
“The problem of South Sudan should not be used for serving others interests. Those who want to over throw the Government of South Sudan should seek other avenues but not through the mediation.”
Such developments have a devastating effect on the nine months old, bad-tempered negotiations that have yet to produce a firm ceasefire, let alone a political deal to end the conflict.
The rebels, however, are against the idea of moving the peace talks from Ethiopia. They said such move would only cause unnecessary delays to negotiations and only prolong the suffering of the people of South Sudan.
“Since January, the South Sudanese government has continuously been undermining the peace process in Ethiopia, and this is just the latest delaying tactic in a strategy to ensure the failure of the peace process”, a statement issued by the rebels state.
On seizing the occasion, the rebels expressed their full confidence in the IGAD-led peace process in Ethiopia and in the leadership of the current chief negotiator, Seyoum Mesfin.
The rebel groups led by former Vice-President Riek Machar, however, refused last month to sign a detailed protocol mapping a way out of the conflict that even offered to create the position of prime minister for an opposition nominee.
The protagonists have warned of all-out war if the talks flounder, fanning concern that while the politicians declare their commitment to making peace, commanders on both sides are preparing new military campaigns.
Fighting in South Sudan erupted after President Salva Kirr accused Riek Machar of a coup. The violence has left thousands dead and more than a million displaced.