By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudan’s next round of peace revitalization talks have been postponed indefinitely, announced the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) in a short statement released on Tuesday.
The Inter – governmental Authority on Development (IGAD)’s High Level Revitalization Forum was proposed in June last year to discuss full implementation of the 2015 peace agreement and develop a revised and realistic timeline.
The first phase of peace talks was conducted in December, last year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement was signed by stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the second phase was held in February. However, it ended without parties agreeing on a clear way forward.
Of recently, the Inter – governmental Authority on Development (IGAD)’s Council of Ministers agreed as the High Level Revitalization Forum had been scheduled to take place from 26th to 30th April.
It was also decided that the Special Envoy had to hold consultations meetings with the process’s parties and stakeholder to narrow the gaps on governance and security arrangements.
In a meeting held in Juba on Tuesday, IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan, Ismail Wais informed the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) of the postponement of the peace revitalization forum.
“The new dates will be communicated by the Office of the Chairperson of the IGAD Council of Ministers in due course,” said the statement without further details.
For its part, the IGAD did not release a statement to announce the indefinite postponement.
Until Tuesday 17 April, nine days before the resumption of the forum, the IGAD special envoy met only with the civil society stakeholders to the HLRF and there is no other meeting was announced with the government or the opposition groups.
Further, several opposition parties formed the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) requested be consulted as one entity and blamed the mediation for ignoring their position paper in its last draft of propositions.
Meanwhile, Juba government threatened to hold general elections if no deal reached soon. While, the leader of the main armed opposition group, Riek Machar, wants to be authorized to take part in the forum and to be the region after the end of his confinement.
The outstanding issues between the parties remain huge on the issue of governance especially composition and structure of the transitional government; number and size of states and composition of the Parliament.
On the security arrangements, the participants to the forum diverge on the timeframe for reintegration/unification of forces and approach to the formation of one national army; security for Juba during the Transition; demilitarization of civilian centres; cantonment of forces and Security sector reform or establishment of new security services.
A delegation from the African Union and Security Council is currently in Juba, consulting with different stakeholders – including the government, civil society groups, among others.
IGAD delegation is also expected to arrive in the country today for further consultations. Similar consultations were conducted with the other groups.
South Sudan has been gripped by conflict since 2013 after a disagreement between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar deteriorated into a military confrontation.
The war has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced 2. 3 million people from their homes.
The warring parties has signed several ceasefire deal to withheld fighting, but they brushed aside and continues with confrontation, which placed a country into economic and humanitarian watershed.