By Taddeo Bwambale
Multi-stakeholder roundtable negotiations on South Sudan opened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Thursday, in a new bid to end fighting in the war-torn nation.
The talks will for the first time feature former detainees who are members of SPLM alongside representatives of political parties, civil society and faith-based organizations.
The negotiations will have representatives from the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and the SPLM/A (In Opposition), IGAD disclosed in a statement on Thursday.
The launch follows the June 10 commitment by South Sudan President, Salva Kiir Mayardit, and his former Vice President Dr. Riek Machar to expedite and complete dialogue on the formation of a transitional government of national unity within sixty days.
“The talks are expected to finalize the modalities for the implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement between the warring parties that was re-affirmed on 9 May 2014,” IGAD mediators said in their statement.
“Negotiations will also begin on a new political dispensation, to include the parameters of a transitional governance agenda and arrangements for a transitional government of national unity,” the statement stated.
According to IGAD, the talks will be conducted in a participatory and round-table format to foster an inclusive process.
A woman prepares food in an IDP (Internaly Displaced Persons) shelter in the UNMISS camp in Juba. PHOTO/AFP
South Sudan's soldiers sit on a truck at the airport in Juba earlier this month. PHOTO/AFP
In May, Kiir and Machar signed a ceasefire agreement in Addis Ababa and pledged to freeze all forces in their current locations.
However, hours after the agreement was signed, both Kiir and Machar’s forces were engaged in fighting in parts of South Sudan, denting their commitment to resolve the conflict amicably.
Earlier this month, IGAD postponed a new round of peace talks and instead convened a symposium to discuss the crisis with over 150 delegates from the government, opposition, political parties, faith based groups, civil society and traditional leaders.
Delegations representing Kiir and Machar at the symposium agreed to a more inclusive, representative and forward looking process to end the fighting through peace talks.
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Political detainees join new South Sudan talks