By Taddeo Bwambale
ADDIS ABABA - IGAD mediators have appealed to South Sudan’s former vice president, Riek Machar, to attend a new round of peace talks after he failed to turn up for talks in Addis Ababa on Monday.
The fifth session of negotiations was expected to resume on Monday, having been suspended six weeks ago when Machar’s team did not turn up.
“On 5 August 2014, the SPLM/A (In Opposition) failed to attend the peace process for South Sudan. The mediation renews its call to the SPLM/A (In Opposition) to honour its commitment to resolve the crisis,” IGAD said in a press statement on Tuesday.
Mediators said they expected Machar’s team to ‘immediately return to and fully participate in the multi-stakeholder negotiations’ which will continue on Wednesday.
“The mediation further calls on the people of South Sudan, IGAD Member States and international partners to urge the SPLM/A (In Opposition) to return to the ongoing peace talks without further delay,” IGAD said.
Key on the agenda will be the formation of a transitional national government and a commitment to end hostilities in the world’s newest nation, IGAD mediator disclosed in a statement.
The talks were initially scheduled to commence on July 30 but were rescheduled to August 4 to cater for holidays of Eid el-Fitr and National Martyr’s Day celebrations in Juba.
Several delegates were confirmed to have started arriving in Addis Ababa ahead of the highly anticipated talks, IGAD officials said.
The talks bring together delegations of the Government led by President Salva Kiir, the SPLM/A (in opposition) led by former Riek Machar, former SPLM detainees and leaders, political parties as well as civil society and faith-based organizations.
President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar signed a peace deal in May, which did not last. (AFP/Getty Images)
The new talks were expected to finalize the modalities for the implementation of the ceasefire agreement signed by Machar and Kiir on May 9.
Both leaders have since accused each other of violating the ceasefire agreement, after fighting erupted in parts of South Sudan moment after the truce.
The fighting in South Sudan that started in December has claimed over 1,500 lives and displaced thousands, leading to a humanitarian crisis.
In June, IGAD mediators suspended talks in Addis Ababa citing failure by Machar’s delegation to turn up for the multi-stakeholder talks.
Last month, Machar’s team arrived at Entebbe Airport purportedly to meet President Yoweri Museveni but returned home after they were not received by government officials.
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S. Sudan rebel leader snubs new IGAD talks