Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Kiir and Machar set for South Sudan ceasefire talks in Addis

South Sudan President Salva Kiir (L) shakes hands with his Uganda counterpart Yoweri Museveni on December 30, 2013 in Juba, South Sudan. South Sudan’s government and rebel officials confirmed their negotiating teams were preparing to fly to the Ethiopian capital, and diplomats said they expected negotiations on a possible ceasefire to begin later. AFP PHOTO/ SAMIR BOL
 South Sudan President Salva Kiir (L) shakes hands with his Uganda counterpart Yoweri Museveni on December 30, 2013 in Juba, South Sudan. South Sudan’s government and rebel officials confirmed their negotiating teams were preparing to fly to the Ethiopian capital, and diplomats said they expected negotiations on a possible ceasefire to begin later.

South Sudan’s warring parties are set to open peace talks aimed at bringing an end to a nearly three-week-old civil war as one of the negotiators warned of a deadlock.
Government and rebel officials confirmed their negotiating teams were preparing to fly to the Ethiopian capital, and diplomats said they expected negotiations on a possible ceasefire to begin later in the day.
“We are expecting them to arrive this afternoon,” Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom told AFP. Ethiopian government spokesman Getachew Reda said the talks would focus on “monitoring mechanisms for the ceasefire”.
According to one of the negotiators Gen (Rtd) Lazarus Sumbeiywo the talks could hit a deadlock as Machar’s forces have defied calls for ceasefire and are headed for Juba from Bor.
“Negotiation remains the only option, to resolve this,” said Mr Sumbeiywo.
Fighting erupted in South Sudan December 15, when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of attempting a coup. Machar has denied this, in turn accusing the president of conducting a violent purge of his opponents.
OIL-RICH AREAS
On Tuesday the rebels also recaptured the town of Bor, capital of Jonglei state and situated just 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of the capital Juba, and fighting was reportedly continuing in the area on Wednesday.
Thousands of people are feared dead, UN officials say, while close to 200,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes.
The conflict has also been marked by an upsurge of ethnic violence pitting members of Kiir’s Dinka tribe against Machar’s Nuer community.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said that “atrocities are continuing to occur” across the country despite efforts to negotiate a ceasefire.
“UNMISS is gravely concerned about mounting evidence of gross violations of international human rights law that have occurred in South Sudan during the past 15 days,” it said in a statement, reporting extra-judicial killings of civilians and captured soldiers and the discovery of large numbers of bodies in Juba, Bor and Malakal, the main town in oil-producing Upper Nile state.
On Tuesday Machar told AFP via satellite phone from an unknown location inside South Sudan that he was not yet ready to agree to an immediate ceasefire nor hold face-to-face talks with Kiir, and that his forces were marching on the capital Juba.
“There is no cessation of hostilities yet,” Machar said.
“That is what the delegation going to Addis Ababa is going to discuss and to negotiate. I will follow later, once the negotiations have resulted in a cessation of hostilities. It depends on if and when that is achieved.”
Kiir has described the war as “senseless”, but has ruled out power sharing with the rebels. The president has also rejected rebel demands that a number of their loyalists be released.
WHAT POWER SHARING
“What power sharing? It is not an option. This man has rebelled.
If you want power, you don’t rebel so that you are awarded with the power,” Kiir said in an interview broadcast on the BBC.
On Wednesday the government confirmed it had lost control of Bor, a town which has changed hands three times in the past two weeks, but officials said fighting was continuing on a number of fronts.
South Sudan is the world’s youngest nation, having won independence from Sudan in 2011.