IGAD to convene summit on S. Sudan situation

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Addis Ababa - A summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is expected to be held before the South Sudanese parties resume their second round of peace talks adjourned to March 20, says the East African bloc.

Until March 20, the parties now have a recess to reflect on documents that are the basis for the negotiations, Seyoum Mesfin, IGAD chief mediator, told reporters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Wednesday.

"… We are hoping to use this period to call on leaders of IGAD to convene a summit here in Addis Ababa some time before the 20th of this month, so that the summit can give further clarification, guidance and direction on how we continue facilitating and mediating this negotiation in South Sudan.

"We expect an IGAD summit to take place in Addis Ababa between now and the 20th of this month," Seyoum said.

According to the chief mediator, the parties agreed on documents developed by IGAD envoys, which serve as the basis for negotiations.

"That does not mean that they have agreed on the entire agenda, but they have accepted it as a working document.

"What has been going on for [about] the last two weeks … in short can be characterised as talks about talks… defining the agenda for the negotiation.

"You can imagine when you have a complex situation like that development in South Sudan, it is not an easy exercise for the parties to agree on what agendas they will cover.

"They will negotiate on social and humanitarian matters; national reconciliation and healing; governance, democracy and human rights; justice and the rule of law institutions; the economy and development; and … the intra-party dialogue," said Seyoum.

Seyoum said the working document also outlines the fundamental principles that the parties will be guided by during their negotiations.

"One of the principles, for instance, calls on the parties to recognise and to permanently renounce the use of force as a means to resolve political differences. Political differences can only be settled through peaceful, democratic negotiations and understanding.

"… They (should) also reject changing a democratically elected government through the use of force and to use force as a means to take power. This undermines the sovereignty of the people of South Sudan.” – SAnews.gov.za-Xinhua