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IGAD summit postponed again as principals of warring parties renegotiate agreement terms

January 31, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – Reports from Addis Ababa have indicated a summit on South Sudan scheduled for Saturday by heads of state and government of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) was postponed until Sunday due to ongoing disagreements between the principal leaders of the warring parties on terms of a draft agreement.

South Sudanese president Salva Kiir (far left), Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta and South Sudan’s rebel chief, Riek Machar, meet with Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete (not shown) on 21 January 2015 in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha (Photo: AFP/Emmanuel Filbert)

On Thursday IGAD presented a principle agreement document to president Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, leader of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), dictating them to sign the document on formation of a transitional government of national unity.

The regional leaders also warned the two leaders of action against them should they not fully agree to the text, which they said was a take it or leave it document and did not warrant renegotiation or further comments.

The regional bloc gave the two principals until Saturday dateline to submit their approval to the IGAD summit, or else.

However, the process has turned out to be a continued negotiation on the document itself, with the two leaders reported to have been renegotiating and making changes to the text, forcing IGAD to postpone the summit.

Rebel sources said the two leaders were locked in the discussions into late evening on Saturday to try to reach an agreement on the leadership structure and power-sharing arrangements, among others.

“The two principals are still discussing the document as we speak,” Machar’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, confirmed to Sudan Tribune by phone on Saturday evening.

He said the IGAD summit was postponed in order to give ample time to the rival leaders to reach an agreement on the document.

Dak however said “some progress” was made in adjusting the document but he declined to give details, adding “many” other outstanding issues were yet to be resolved.

IGAD’s original document endorsed president Kiir to lead a transitional government of national unity in a proposed presidential leadership structure in which he would also be deputised by first vice president from the rebels and vice president, the incumbent.

The draft however did not specify how executive powers should be shared between the three top leaders.

The document initially gave the government a percentage power-sharing of 60%, rebel group 30% and other political parties plus former detainees to share 10%.

It also endorsed the current 332 membership of the national legislative assembly with additional 68 members to be shared by the three parties and make a total of 400 legislators.

The rebel faction of the SPLM-IO however criticised the IGAD document, saying they should leave it to the parties to negotiate.

They also said IGAD was “putting the cart before the horse” by prioritising formation of a transitional government instead of first addressing “underlying fundamentals” which were the root causes to the over one-year old conflict.

The two leaders are expected to finalise their negotiations on Sunday and submit their report to IGAD summit.