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Former SPLM detainees discuss South Sudan crisis with mediators

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

May 15, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The chief negotiator in the South Sudanese conflict, Ethiopian politician Seyoum Mesfin and the 11 former senior officials from South Sudan’s ruling party (SPLM) held consultation meeting in Addis Ababa over the political crises in the world’s youngest nation.

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IGAD’s chief mediator for South Sudan peace talks, Seyoum Mesfin, speaks to the press following the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement between the South Sudanese government and rebels in Addis Ababa on 23 January 2014 (Photo: AFP)

An Ethiopian official told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that the discussions between the two sides focused on ways how to sustain the relative stability gained following the latest ceasefire agreement between the two SPLM rival leaders.

The IGAD chief mediator on Wednesday said South Sudan was relatively calm following the new peace deal except for Monday’s fighting around Bentiu town.

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader, Riek Machar, last week signed a new ceasefire agreement after coming under immense regional and international pressure to end the five-month old conflict.

According to Mesfin, part of the pace pact also calls for the formation of a transitional government that would last two to three years.

The IGAD chief mediator has also discussed the role the 11 former detainees could play in bringing durable solution, with the group who were arrested and accused of conspiring to oust president Kiir in a coup.

"The warring parties are the parties that should and must negotiate and bring the fighting to an end. But with regard to the political process, all stakeholders would have their role and must play their role to achieve the broadest possible endorsement of the solution being solved for South Sudan” said Mesfin, Ethiopia’s former foreign minister.

Pagan Amum, former secretary-general of South Sudan’s ruling party SPLM said: "As SPLM leaders, we are going to participate and engage first and foremost the two parties to stop this war and this conflict, so that we proceed with the negotiation to develop and agree on programmes to urge South Sudan into a transition to peace and democracy."

Amum said his team will fully participate with both parties in restoring peace and democracy in South Sudan as well as in shaping in every future of the country.

"We are going to participate as an equal stakeholder and partner with the SPLM-in-Government and the government delegation, SPLM/A-in-Opposition and the SPLM Leaders together with representatives of our civil society and faith-based and church leaders," he said.

Amum said the group of former detainees will closely work with both SPLM warring factions on transitional arrangements including a transitional constitutional framework and development.

The group of SPLM leaders - known as the G-11 - was jailed with an alleged role in a failed coup attempt in mid-December. The G-11 have decided not to side to either party but have stood as a third party arguing that they had no role in the ongoing conflict.

Fighting in South Sudan broke out in December last year following a dispute with his former deputy Riek Machar, who he sacked in July 2013.

The army was then quickly divided into two factions largely pitting members of Kiir’s Dinka tribe against Machar’s Nuer. The UN has described some of the violence committed by both sides.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced over 1.3 million.

(ST)