Home | News    Wednesday 24 June 2009

Ethiopian rebels leave South Sudan as peace initiative fails

By James Gatdet Dak

June 23, 2009 (JUBA) – Southern Sudan government announced the failure of a peace initiative to reconcile an opposition group with the Ethiopian government which played down the seriousness of the rebel leaders.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (AP)

The Acting Spokesperson and Minister of the Government of Southern Sudan, Madut Biar, told the press that President Salva Kiir Mayardit briefed the Council of Ministers about his discussion with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on a request by Ethiopian dissidents to make peace with their government.

Thok-wath Pal Chai the leader of the rebel Ethiopian Unity Patriotic Front (EUPF) came to Juba last week asking the Government of Southern Sudan to mediate peace talks between them and the government.

However, The Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said his government was not ready to talk to the rebel leader, saying he was not sincere or serious to rejoin his government.

Pal, a Nuer by ethnicity, is the former governor of Gambella region as well as the region’s Secretary for the Ethiopian former ruling party, the Workers Party of Ethiopia (WPE), from 1985 to 1987.

Hundreds of thousands of Gambella region’s inhabitants from Nuer and Anyuak ethnic groups were officially annexed to Ethiopia after the Addis Ababa Agreement of 1972 during late Jaafer Nimieri and late King Haile Sellassie’s regimes in Sudan and Ethiopia, respectively.

Before he was appointed governor by the former Ethiopian President, Mengistu Haile Mariam, Pal was the region’s Chief Security between 1981 and 1985 during the time the SPLM/A was formed in Itang and Bilpam.

Itang and Bilpam were the biggest Sudanese refugee camp and the SPLA GHQrs, respectively, under the jurisdiction of the Gambella’s regional government.

Pal was also responsible for the security of the SPLM/A in his host region, Gambella.

He fled from Ethiopia during the fall of regime of the former Ethiopian President, Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.

Before he fled the country Pal was the ruling party’s First Secretary for Western Ethiopia, member of National Security Defense Council as well as member of National Assembly in Addis Ababa.

Pal, who formed a rebellion movement and became its chairman in 1990s to overthrow the present Ethiopian regime, has been living in exile mostly in Kenya for the last 18 years.

The Ethiopian Unity Patriotic Front (EUPF) in some instances carried out military attacks against government towns and forces in the region.

His forces were suspected in local media reports to be supported by the Eritrean government and sometimes tried to forge alliance with another rebel group, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) which also operates in the western part of Ethiopia.

His former boss, Mengistu Haile Mariam, is accused of committing atrocities in the country by the present Ethiopian regime of Meles Zenawi.

Pal left Juba for another country on Monday as the Government of Southern Sudan told him to leave the country after the peace initiative failed.

The Southern Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit was in Addis Ababa last week where he held talks with the Prime Minister Meles Zenawi about the bilateral relations and joitn development projects.