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No one signs own arrest warrant, says S. Sudan official

South Sudan's Information Minister Michael Makuei (File photo Samir Bol/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
February 10, 2018 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth said his government declined on Saturday to sign a declaration of principles containing a punitive provision because no one signs a document authorizing an arrest warrant.

Lueth wondered why the international community was asking them to sign the document even when the United States and its allies sanctioned him and other colleagues without their permission.

“There is no way one should give an enemy a stick and his head to beat. When they, the Americans, declared the sanctions on me, did they ask me to sign that document? Why now?" asked the minister.

The government delegation, in its 10 February statement to the public, argued that the contentious article 28 in the declaration of principles which the government opted not to sign, has been covered by article 14 of the ceasefire and humanitarian access, which the warring parties earlier signed on December 21, 2017.

The statement called for the removal of the article because it incriminates the parties. It further pointed out that sanctions and or other punitive measures are usually imposed without approval or consent of the targeted party, individuals or institutions.

“The Transitional Government of National Unity objected to the inclusion of article 28 of the declaration of principles and suggested that it should be deleted from the text or that the names of those parties who do not wish to sign or associate themselves with the declaration of principles should have their name(s) deleted”, the statement reads in part.

The mediation team, however, rejected the government’s position, arguing that signing of the declaration of principles should be optional and voluntary after days of negotiation without consensus.

“Since the signing of the declaration of principle is optional and thus not binding on non-signatories and since the parties are already in progress discussing and deliberating on issues without the declaration of principle in place, the signing of the declaration of principles becomes unnecessary and irrelevant”, noted the statement.

REBELS ON COURSE

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) led by the country’s former First Vice-President, Riek Machar on Friday announced it signed a Declaration of Principles for the peace revitalization process while the government refused the framework saying it calls for sanctions on the parties.

The SPLM / SPLA (IO) "Deputy Chairman of the SPLM/SPLA (IO), Comrade Henry Odwar has signed the Declaration of Principles (DoP), for the IGAD - High Level Revitalization Forum on South Sudan (HLRF)," said a statement released by Mabior Garang Mabior the head of the head of the SPLM-IO information committee.

"The leadership would like to assure our people, that your Movement, the SPLM/SPLA (IO) is fully committed to peace through a negotiated settlement," Mabior further added.

The rebel official, however, didn’t comment on the position of the government delegation on the Declaration of Principles but stressed that their delegation is resolved to negotiate with the government in good faith and they shall not betray the hopes and aspirations of South Sudanese for peace.

The second phase of the South Sudan peace revitalization forum started Monday, after the failure of the parties to implement a cessation of hostilities. It is also convened under regional and international threats to impose sanctions on the parties if they fail to honour the peace deal.

(ST)