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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
IGAD puts forward final bridging proposal
to South Sudan peace process

ADDIS ABABA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers on Thursday submitted the final report of the proposal to bring South Sudan’s warring factions together towards peace.

Ethiopian Foreign Minister and the current Chairperson of the IGAD Council of Ministers, Workneh Gebeyehu, said that proposal marks “a very critical juncture where the one-year-long Revitalization Process finally bore a valuable document that would address the outstanding issues among the parties particularly on responsibility sharing and security arrangement mechanisms.”

Gebeyehu urged parties to effectively use the bridging final proposal “to once and for all put the lingering misery of the people of South Sudan to its closure.”

The IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government is expected to endorse the proposal in its 32nd extra-ordinary summit, which is scheduled to take place soon after the Council of Ministers summit.

The assembly, based on the council’s recommendation, is also expected to engage the parties to sign the revitalized agreement prepared based on the bridging proposal.

The IGAD Council of Ministers submitted the report of the bridging proposal as South Sudan’s rival leaders gathered for the long-awaited discussion after nearly two years of a face-to-face meeting.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar are currently in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa for peace talks under the invitation of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is also the current chairman of the East African bloc IGAD.

Machar, who heads the opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO), arrived in Ethiopia from his two-year exile in South Africa to meet Kiir and Ahmed.

The East African bloc, as the main broker of the South Sudanese peace deal, has been frequently expressing its concern that South Sudanese parties have not made sufficient compromises to overcome the outstanding issues on governance and security matters.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the humanitarian crisis triggered by the civil war and chronic underdevelopment continues to intensify on a costly trajectory for the country’s people and their outlook on the future.

The number of people uprooted since the start of the conflict in 2013 has reached more than 4 million, including 1.9 million internally displaced people, with up to 85 percent estimated to be children and women, according to UNOCHA.

Mohamoud Ali Youssouf, Djibouti’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, on Thursday expressed his hopes that the proposal “would finally bring about the peace the South Sudanese aspire if the parties could effectively use it.”

Foreign Minister of Uganda Sam Kutesa also underlined the urgent need to take punitive measures on individuals who obstruct the peace process.

Kenya’s cabinet secretary for foreign affairs Monica Jumma, Somalia’s foreign minister Ahmed Isse Awad and the foreign minister of Sudan Mohammed Dirdiri were also in attendance at the IGAD’s Council of Ministers meeting in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

Ismail Wais, IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan, while presenting the final bridging proposal to the Council of Ministers on Thursday, also noted that IGAD forged an Intensive Interlinked Consultation (IIC) for three days that aimed at engaging the parties on the outstanding governance and security issues to enable them to reach consensus.

Based on their deliberations and discussions, IGAD’s team further revised the bridging proposal for the Council’s consideration and endorsement, Wais said.

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UPDATES:

Kenyan leader vows to work for peace in
South Sudan ahead of Kiir-Machar meeting

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta vowed on Wednesday to continue spearheading search for peace in South Sudan as part of efforts to stabilize the East African region.

State House Deputy Spokesperson Kanze Dena said Kenyatta will on Thursday travel to Ethiopia to join other regional leaders for the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-led South Sudan peace process.

“Regional security remains an important factor to our national peace and development,” Dena told a news conference in Nairobi.

She said Kenyatta’s visit to Ethiopia where South Sudan President Salva Kiir was due to meet with his former deputy-turn foe, Riek Machar affirms the country’s continued support to the ongoing peace process in South Sudan.

“In the continued search for peace and stability for our northern neighbor, Kenya will continue to support the IGAD-led process on South Sudan,” Dena said.

Kiir and Machar were due to meet in Addis Ababa on Wednesday for first face-to-face talks to negotiate a power-sharing plan prepared by the East Africa bloc aimed at stopping the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.

International pressure has been growing on the South Sudan warring parties to end the ongoing conflict which UN estimates has displaced four million South Sudanese both internally and externally.

Dena stressed that Kenya will remain committed to the course of peace and stability in South Sudan as an independent arbiter within the IGAD framework.

South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

A 2015 peace agreement was shattered when the warring parties renewed fighting in July 2016 in the capital forcing rebel leader Riek Machar to flee into exile.

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Somalia president joins regional leaders in search for peace in South Sudan

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi (Farmajo) left the country on Thursday for Ethiopia to join other East African leaders to help shore up South Sudan peace process.

A statement from the presidency said Farmajo was due to attend an extra-ordinary Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) summit in Addis Ababa that will review the progress made in the South Sudan peace process.

South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar arrived in Ethiopia on Wednesday for a meeting with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, as part of efforts to try to broker a deal to end the nation’s civil conflict.

Officials said the two leaders later held talks in Addis Ababa on Wednesday evening for the first time in two years. Details of the Wednesday meeting were not divulged.

IGAD is an eight-member economic bloc that brings together Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda.

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South Sudan’s rival leaders to revive discussions after two years of stalemat

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- South Sudanese rebel leader, Riek Machar, arrived in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Wednesday for peace talks with South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, after nearly two years of discussions among the two rival leaders.

President Kiir, who is also expected to arrive in Ethiopia later today, will meet his former deputy Machar, who had been in exile in South Africa for close to two years, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday.

The discussion between the two warring South Sudanese factions is said to be the first of its kind since the last discussion among the two leaders two years ago that contributed little to South Sudan’s peace process.

According to the ministry, the meeting between the South Sudan warring sides is organized under the invitation of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is also the current chairman of the eastern African bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Machar, currently head of the opposition, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO), is also expected to hold talks with Ethiopia’s Ahmed on ways of creating lasting solutions to the crisis in South Sudan, it was noted.

IGAD, which recently revealed its decision to bring leaders of the two major warring factions to the table, has also scheduled to undertake its ministerial as well as leaders’ summit in Addis Ababa as of Tuesday.

IGAD’s Council of Ministers summit earlier this month had revealed a possibility of punitive measures against violators of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) that was signed by South Sudan’s warring factions in December 2017 in Addis Ababa.

The IGAD Council of Ministers had also decided to submit punitive measures against violators of the peace agreement to the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government for approval.

The ceasefire agreement, brokered by IGAD, asked the warring parties to stop military operations, demanded that forces remain in their bases and further called for the release of political detainees.

Despite the cessation of hostilities agreement that was signed during the first round of peace talks, the violence has continued and new rebel groups are reportedly joined the vilest humanitarian condition witnessed in the country.

“Despite all efforts made so far, South Sudanese parties have not made sufficient compromises to overcome the outstanding issues on governance and security matters,” IGAD’s Council of Ministers said earlier this month.

According to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the humanitarian crisis triggered by the legacy of civil war and chronic underdevelopment continues to intensify on a costly trajectory for the country’s people and their outlook on the future.

The number of people uprooted since the start of the conflict in 2013 has reached more than 4 million, including 1.9 million internally displaced people, with up to 85 percent estimated to be children and women, according to UNOCHA.

The IGAD Summit is also expected to deliberate and decide on the outcomes of the year-long process of the second phase of the High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) on South Sudan.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed, while inviting the two rival leaders for peace talks in Ethiopia, has also urged them to contribute their almost efforts to end the suffering, migration as well as death of South Sudanese people, according to the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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South Sudanese leaders meeting in Ethiopia to
focus on governance and security: minister

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar were due on Wednesday to discuss issues on governance and security which remain sticky issues among the warring parties when the leaders would meet in the Ethiopian capital, a senior official revealed.

Awut Deng Acuil, South Sudan’s minister of Gender and Child Affairs, told journalists Wednesday in Juba that Kiir would discuss the outstanding issues on governance and security with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-in opposition (SPLM/A-IO) leader Machar at the face-to-face talks in Addis Ababa.

“I think more will be on governance and security issues because when we were discussing governance and security issues we had differences in the timeframe, the opposition are talking about 12 to 18 months and the government is talking about 120 days for integration of the forces,” Awut said in Juba as President Kiir left for the Addis Ababa talks.

The government has rejected the opposition demand on dissolving the transitional parliament and formation of two armies which in the past resulted in clashes on July 8, 2016 as Machar returned to take up his position of First Vice President under the 2015 peace agreement.

The minister said the government side was opposed to the idea of two armies as being proposed by the opposition in the capital.

“If we take the position suggested by the opposition it is just the same as like what happened last time (two armies) and we cannot afford to have two armies anymore that is why the time has to be shortened so that we start with the transitional period with one national army,” Awut disclosed.

She revealed that talks between the two leaders who are invited by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will take place as scheduled on Wednesday prior to the Thursday summit of the Heads of States from the East African regional bloc IGAD.

South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

A 2015 peace agreement was shattered when the warring parties renewed fighting in July 2016 in the capital forcing rebel leader Machar to flee into exile.

The UN estimates that about 4 million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.

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Sudan and Djibouti presidents arrive in Ethiopia for South Sudan peace talks

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh arrived in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Thursday for the South Sudan peace talks to end the more than four years of civil war.

In a press statement, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said the two leaders who were received on arrival by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed are expected to attend the 32nd meeting of the regional bloc IGAD that will focus on ending South Sudan’s civil war.

On Wednesday, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his ex-deputy and leader of the main rebel group Riek Machar arrived in Ethiopia to attend the IGAD-sponsored peace talks dubbed as “the last big hope for peace” for the world’s youngest nation.

IGAD’s Council of Ministers summit earlier this month revealed a possibility of punitive measures against violators of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) that was signed by South Sudan’s warring factions in December 2017 in Addis Ababa.

South Sudan descended into a civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

The UN estimates that about 4 million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.  

           

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