By Taddeo Bwambale
Peace talks to end fighting in South Sudan have reached a positive step on Friday, the executive secretary of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Ambassador Mahboub Maalim has disclosed.
Delegations of President Salva Kiir and his rival, Dr. Riek Machar started talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Friday to end the month-long conflict.
In a statement on Friday, Ambassador Mahboub said there had been ‘positive engagements’ by the negotiating teams of both parties during proxy talks.
The Friday talks were observed by the Chair of IGAD Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Dr. Tedros Adhanom and IGAD Special Envoy Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin.
The warring parties are set to begin direct talks on Saturday, in a bid to end the conflict pushing the world's youngest nation towards civil war.
Ambassador Mahboub described the start of the talks as ‘a significant step in pursuit of a peaceful resolution of the crisis.’
He commended the commitment by both parties to a speedy and peaceful resolution of the crisis demonstrated in the proxy talks.
The talks are in line with the call for an end to the fighting made by the 23rd IGAD Summit of Heads of state and Government on 27 December 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya.
The unrest in South Sudan has claimed over 1,500 lives, displaced thousands of civilians and led to the evacuation of thousands of foreign nationals.
Mahboub pledged IGADʼs support towards a peaceful solution to the crisis and appealed to the International Community to take part in stabilizing the world’s youngest country.
Established to foster drought control and development, IGAD brings together six countries of the Horn of Africa region which are Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.
‘Positive step’ in S. Sudan talks, says IGAD chief