Home | News    Friday 30 January 2015

IGAD summit on S. Sudan postponed as SPLM-IO lambastes proposed deal

January 29, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – An extraordinary summit of the heads of state and government of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which convened on Thursday, has been adjourned until Saturday in order to give the two warring parties more time to reach an agreement on a document imposed by regional leaders.

Negotiators at South Sudan peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, review a draft cessation of hostilities agreement on 13 January 2014 (Photo courtesy of Larco Lomayat)

The move comes after South Sudanese president Salva Kiir and leader of the opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) Riek Machar failed to agree on leadership structure and power-sharing arrangements during face-to-face talks on Thursday.

On Thursday, IGAD leaders decided to dictate a principle agreement to the two warring parties, warning it would take unspecified action should the rival leaders fail to accept the proposed terms by Saturday.

“Failure to reach an agreement by Saturday afternoon along the dictated IGAD principles shall take firm action before any other body,” IGAD leaders said in a joint statement.

The IGAD bloc, which has been mediating ongoing peace talks, also said it was not prepared to accept any comments in response to the dictated text, stressing that it must be endorsed in totality by both parties.

“In declaring this imposed agreement the chairman of IGAD cautioned that they had a consensus and would not receive any comment,” the statement said.

IGAD IMPOSES SOLUTION

The IGAD-imposed principle agreement has endorsed Kiir as the president of the would-be Transitional Government of National Unity (TGNU), saying “this is a non-violating principle”.

The regional leaders previously said they would not seek to remove an elected president.

In addition to the president, the document calls for the leadership structure to be comprised of a first vice-president (from the SPLM-IO) and a vice-president, which IGAD has dictated must come from the Equatoria region and remain the incumbent, James Wani Igga.

The imposed agreement, however, fell short of outlining the specific duties of the three principals in the executive leadership, saying this would be left to be worked out by the two parties.

IGAD leaders have also stipulated that the president and first vice-president can only be succeeded by someone within their respective parties.

In regards to power-sharing arrangements, the proposed agreement gives 60% to the government and 30% to the rebel faction, while 10% is to be shared among all other South Sudanese political parties and former detainees.

The agreement states that the current 332 members of the national parliament will remain untouched, with an additional 68 members to be appointed by the three principal parties in accordance with the power-sharing ratio of 60%, 30% and 10% respectively.

This measure will increase the total number of parliamentarians to 400.

The IGAD agreement also imposed that the speaker of South Sudan’s national parliament must also come from the Greater Equatoria region.

REBELS CRITICISE IGAD DEAL

The rebel faction has criticised the IGAD agreement, saying the measures will not restore peace to the country.

“This take it or leave it approach undermines the essence of a peacefully negotiated settlement,” chief rebel negotiator Taban Deng Gai said in a statement issued on Thursday.

Rebels say the imposed agreement is an attempt to dismantle the recent intra-SPLM agreement on reunification recently signed which the three factions in the Tanzanian city of Arusha.

“IGAD has killed [the] Arusha agreement by creating parallel lines of succession,” the statement said in reference to the proposed terms of the transitional government which implies that president Kiir can only be succeeded by Igga, and not the first vice-president, Machar in the in case the president’s post falls vacant.

The two warring parties previously agreed to form a national unity government headed by Kiir, with a prime minister to be appointed from the rebel faction, although they failed to agree on the powers to be granted to the new prime minister.

The SPLM-IO has also reiterated its calls for the African Union (AU) to make public a report by the Commission of Inquiry into crimes committed during the current conflict.

Despite rejecting the imposed principle agreement, the rebel faction has expressed its commitment to a genuine peace process.

Tens of thousands have died and some two million uprooted from their homes since conflict erupted in December 2013 after an internal dispute over reforms within the ruling SPLM turned violent.

The conflict has plunged the young nation into a humanitarian crisis, with about four million people at risk of hunger and disease.

KIIR’S HEALTH

According to IGAD officials, a meeting between the Kiir and Machar, which was being hosted by Ethiopian prime minister and IGAD chairperson Hailemariam Desalegn ahead of the leaders summit, was interrupted on Wednesday after Kiir reportedly suffered a sudden nosebleed brought on by “stress”.

The office of the South Sudan president in Juba issued a statement on Thursday denying the reports as “false allegations”.

However, IGAD officials who were attending the direct peace talks when Kiir reportedly fell ill told Sudan Tribune that they had witnessed the “unfortunate incident”.

Other media outlets, including BBC Arabic, also reported the news.

The talks resumed on Thursday morning after Kiir’s health condition improved.

(ST)