May 25, 2015 (JUBA) – South Sudanese government on Monday said it welcomed the decision by the East African regional bloc of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which requested the neighbouring Sudan to play a leading role in resolving the ongoing internal conflict in South Sudan.
South Sudanese foreign minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said his government would welcome Khartoum’s mediation’s process which would address root causes of the conflict and respect for sovereignty of the new independent state.
“We welcome any initiative for peace as long as that initiative addresses the core issues and does not undermine sovereignty of the Republic of South Sudan,” he told reporters in the capital, Juba.
“The government does not have any problem with any initiative intended to bring peace and end this senseless war,” he said.
He added that Sudan is a member of the IGAD and also member of the African Union (AU) and therefore the South Sudanese leadership had no problem if president Bashir of Sudan would play a leading role in the mediation process to end the crisis in South Sudan.
“As a government we welcomed the participation of other African countries so that a solution is found to this conflict from the African context,” he added.
The top diplomat made the comment in response to the new mediation initiative which intended to make Khartoum lead the mediation process between president Salva Kiir’s government and the opposition faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) led by former vice president, Riek Machar.
Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti on Sunday disclosed that the Sudanese government accepted a demand by the regional body asking president Bashir to be more involved in its efforts to bring peace in South Sudan as it prepares to launch a new mediation mechanism.
Karti said Khartoum accepted the IGAD proposal and vowed to undertake efforts in this respect after the swearing-in ceremony of president Bashir scheduled for 2 June.
He also indicated that the European delegation will meet Bashir after this ceremony for a follow up on the new mediation proposal.
Juba has been accusing Khartoum of supporting the rebels of SPLM-IO which the Sudanese government denies and has also been accusing Juba of supporting Sudanese rebels such as the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
The two formerly one, but now two separate independent countries, also signed cooperation agreements in September 2012 on border security and demarcation and trade among others, but with difficulty in implementation.
The mediation to end the 17-month long civil war had been led by the Ethiopian prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, also chair of IGAD with Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta as rapporteur.
Talks between the warring parties collapsed on 6 March when the two principal leaders could not agree on almost every contentious issue despite a three-day direct negotiations in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
IGAD is yet to announce a date for resumption of the peace talks as it expands the mediation mechanism to include countries and international bodies outside the African continent.