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IGAD mediators demand tough actions against S. Sudan leaders

August 14, 2014 (JUBA) – The regional bloc (IGAD) mediating peace talks between South Sudan’s warring leaders has called for imposition of tougher actions against parties blocking the process.

African leaders at the IGAD heads of state and government meeting held in Nairobi, Kenya on Friday, December 27, 2013 (Photo: Moses Lomoyat)

The calls came during Wednesday’s extraordinary IGAD Council of Ministers meeting held in Nairobi, Kenya.

Ethiopia’s foreign minister, Tedros Adhanom chaired the one-day event, where the mediators briefed IGAD member countries on the progress so far made in South Sudan peace talks aimed at ending the ongoing conflict.

“It was a successful meeting. You know that peace talks which have just resumed were adjourned at the request of the mediators for consultation with IGAD heads of state whose countries are playing an active role in the peace process,” South Sudan’s foreign minister, Barnaba Marial exclusively told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.

“The main issue was the demand of the SPLM in opposition. It was first about the issue of representation and later came up demanding bilateral discussion with the government, which contravenes the June 9th communiqué of the IGAD heads of state that calls for participation of all the stakeholders in the negotiation, explained

According to the minister, the contentious issue of the representation was resolved and peace talks have now resumed.

“The ministers have agreed unanimously that the problem was caused by the refusal of the SPLM/A-in-Opposition to participate in the talks despite the agreement it had signed and they agreed that tough actions be taken against those blocking the peace process,” stressed Marial.

“On our part, we are committed to ensuring that this conflict is brought to an end through peaceful dialogue,” he further assured.

The United States secretary of state, John Kerry has strongly condemned the failure of South Sudan’s warring parties to meet a deadline to reach a peaceful settlement to end the eight-month-long conflict.

Kerry, in a statement issued on 11 August, denounced the delay of the parties to meet their commitment, saying neither party engaged in peace talks seriously.

“Along with my troika colleagues from Norway and the United Kingdom, we condemn these failures,” he said. “This is an outrage and an insult to the people of South Sudan. Their leaders are letting them down again and again,” he added.

He further called on IGAD and the African Union to take the “appropriate action” saying the African leaders have previously called for punitive measures, if the parties failed to secure peace by the agreed deadline.

We’re well past the point where enough is enough,” he further stressed.

A 31-member delegation from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Tuesday visited the South Sudan capital, Juba and met president Salva Kiir, government officials and civil society activists.

Mark Lyall Grant, the Britain’s permanent representative to the world body, clearly stated that the Security Council was ready to consider "all appropriate measures" against those undermining peace, stability and security in South Sudan.

“There would be consequences for those who try to undermine agreements that are reached in the Addis Ababa talks,” he stressed.

Grant, the UNSC president for August, also talked to opposition leader, Riek Machar via video link, but described the engagement as "disappointing.”

"We did not hear much from them that gave us hope that there will be rapid agreement,” said UK envoy, adding that both leaders had admitted there was no military solution to the country’s eight-month old conflict.

“We underlined a very strong message that there will be consequences for those who undermine the peace process that is not willing to put aside their personal agendas in the interest of the people,” added Grant.

The Security Council members also met with the IGAD ministers on Wednesday in the Kenyan capital to discuss the next possible steps to be taken.