By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
August 17, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) heads of state and governments summit was postponed after regional mediators requested more time to prepare, a senior Ethiopian government official told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
Leaders from the regional bloc were due to meet on Sunday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to decide on what specific measures should be taken against South Sudan’s rival factions which have failed to bring lasting political settlement to the conflict in South Sudan.
Postponement of the IGAD leaders’ summit comes as South Sudan’s ruling party, Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) and its opposition faction (SPLM-in-Opposition) led by the former vice president Riek Machar failed to meet the August 10 deadline to reach an agreement on forming a proposed transitional government.
IGAD officials on Sunday wouldn’t respond to questions by Sudan Tribune on why the regional leaders’ summit was postponed or to confirm if there was any new date fixed for the summit to convene.
However, Ethiopian ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson, Ambassador Dina Mufti, told Sudan Tribune that the summit was postponed due to the time needed to make thorough preparations by the IGAD mediation envoys.
IGAD is expected to soon announce a new timetable for the summit.
The eight-month long conflict in South Sudan has killed tens of thousands and forced over 1.5 million people flee their home.
Despite previously signed ceasefire agreement and continued intense regional and international pressure, leaders of the two warring factions have failed to demonstrate full commitment to end the crises.
On Friday, fresh fighting erupted in Unity state with both sides trading accusations on violating the terms of the cessation of hostilities agreement.
IGAD CONDEMNS VIOLATIONS
IGAD, the regional bloc brokering South Sudan peace negotiations, on Friday condemned the latest truce violations in the state capital, Bentiu.
IGAD said it condemns “in the strongest terms the continued flagrant violation of the Cessation of Hostilities agreement that was signed on 23 January 2014 by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and SPLM/A – In Opposition”
The latest fighting broke out only few days after UN Security Council team paid a visit to the conflict hit Africa’s youngest nation.
The statement said IGAD “Particularly dismayed by the latest fighting that happened just days away from the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government summit meeting and less than 48 hours after the departure of the U.N. Security Council team that visited the region”
After paying a visit to South Sudan, head of the UN Security Council team, Mark Lyall Grant, accused president Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar of showing little commitment to the ongoing IGAD-led negotiations in Addis Ababa.
Grant said achieving peace in South Sudan was unlikely taking the little commitment shown by the two principals.
“We have had engagements with President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar but we did not hear much from them that gave us hope that there would be rapid agreements in the talks in Addis Ababa; both said they recognized there was no military solution to the crisis, but the two positions remain far apart”
IGAD has also noted military advances to gain more ground will not achieve anything except to worsen the already catastrophic humanitarian situation and to cause further devastation.
New round of talks between the two conflicting South Sudanese parties is due to resume on 28 August.
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