South Sudan Warring Factions to Talk Power-Sharing at Summit

6 mins read
By William Davison

BN-FC600_sudan1_J_20141021055852South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, are set to meet in the latest effort by East African leaders to broker a power-sharing deal and end more than 10 months of fighting.
The key issue the pair will discuss at a regional summit that started today in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, is the powers a proposed new position of prime minister will have in a transitional government. The warring factions agreed to create the post during peace talks this year, according to mediators from a regional bloc.
Conflict erupted in December 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, a Nuer, fled the capital, Juba, and became the leader of a rebel delegation at peace talks overseen by theIntergovernmental Authority on Development, or IGAD.
The regional peace process is almost “at the end of the line” as South Sudan’s leaders haven’t sought a political solution to the crisis, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said at the opening of the meeting, attended by all seven IGAD heads of state and Machar.
“While in our summit today we expect to make significant headway in breaking the impasse, it should be clear that it is time the issue be given the full attention it deserves by the United Nations Security Council in order for meaningfully strong action to be taken,” Hailemariam said.
Meeting Tonight

Kiir and Machar will meet tonight with Hailemariam, the current IGAD chairman, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has been named as a rapporteur for the summit, an IGAD official said by phone from Addis Ababa. The summit will continue tomorrow, said the official, who asked not to be named in line with IGAD policy.
Violence has left thousands of people dead and displaced almost 2 million, according to the UN. Fighting has resumed in recent weeks in Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity states as seasonal rains have eased, intensifying UN concern that there may be further casualties and a famine.
The U.S. and European Union have sanctioned commanders from both sides and rights groups want an arms embargo imposed on South Sudan. The UN should start discussing with IGAD and the African Union “all appropriate measures, including targeted sanctions against those impeding the peace process,” Security Council President Gary Quinlan said yesterday in a statement.
Transitional Government

Recent negotiations in Ethiopia have focused on the make-up of an interim administration and state reform. Machar rejected an IGAD deal in August that would have allowed his faction to nominate a prime minister who would have to be approved by the president and then barred from elections to be held after three years.
“For Kiir to accept a powerful prime minister is not simple because he wants to retain control of the executive,” Edmund Yakani, head of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, a Juba-based non-profit group, said in an e-mailed response to questions yesterday. “This is while Riek and his allies want a powerful prime minister position that offers strong checks and balances on the president.”
As well as power-sharing, peace requires moving South Sudan “forward from a country of competing armed camps” and having accountability for atrocities so the “thirst for revenge can be quenched,” said Donald Booth, the U.S. special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan. Further leadership failure “will be a tragedy for all, for South Sudan, for the region, and for the broader world,” he said at the opening.
Nuer Opposition
Even if a deal is struck by the factions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, rebel Nuer commanders may continue fighting, according to John Young, the author of a book on the agreement that led to South Sudan’s 2011 secession from Sudan that was also mediated by IGAD. The formerly unified Sudan was Africa’s second-largest oil producer in 2010.
“Nuer opinion is very strongly opposed to President Salva Kiir participating in any transitional government and to the imposition of another SPLM-led government,” Young said yesterday in an e-mailed response to questions. “Riek would thus have a very difficult task to convince his tribesmen to support such an agreement.”

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