May 1, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s government has expressed its readiness to engage in accelerated and direct peace talks aimed at ending conflict in the country which erupted in mid-December last year.
The third session of South Sudan peace talks, which are being mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), resumed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Monday.
Deputy foreign affairs minister Peter Bashir Gbandi told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that the government delegation was at the venue but had yet to receive an agenda for negotiations.
“It (the delegation) has a full mandate to engage in direct and accelerated talks with the group of [rebel leader] Riek Machar,” he said.
Gbandi said he had also yet to receive and details on the arrangements of a proposed interim administration.
“Personally, I have not received any report about interim arrangements. If it is the mediators saying it, then this proposal has not been tabled for discussions by the two sides,” he said.
The official was reacting to media reports quoting the lead government mediator as saying the two sides should now be seen to be showing serious commitment to ending the conflict, which has pitted government forces loyal to president Salva Kiir against rebels aligned with Machar, South Sudan’s former vice-president who was sacked last July.
Gbandi said the two sides are due to discuss and review documents relating to a cessation of hostilities agreement and the declaration of principles, adding that once satisfied with the terms, the delegations would proceed with discussions on agenda items.
Previous talks, as well as a ceasefire deal signed in January, have failed to stem violence on the ground, with both sides accused of committing atrocities.