IGAD summit delayed to Monday over controversial proposals for peace in S Sudan

August 24, 2014 (Addis Ababa) – The leaders of African regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), had to postpone a summit scheduled for Sunday to Monday as the two South Sudanese warring parties contested a peace plan proposed by the mediation.

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An extraordinary session of the IGAD heads of states meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 10 June 2014 (IGAD photo)

The IDAG mediation team, headed by the former Ethiopian foreign minister Seyoum Mesfin, which mediates the peace process between South Sudan’s government and rebel SPLM-in Opoosition has presented a draft agreement between Salva Kiir’s government and Riek Machar’s opposition group.

The regional body also postponed the heads of state summit which was to kick off on Sunday, as the Ethiopian prime minister and chair of IGAD bloc held consultation meetings with the different head of states and delegations who already in Addis Ababa for the summit.

Both Kiir and Machar will attend the summit on Monday which has brought together heads of state and government from the region.

Sources from the venue of the talks say the controversial proposal calls for an interim government headed by Salva Kiir as president with two deputies and a prime minister position for Riek Machar, also with two deputies.

Another alternative in the draft agreement filed by the mediators provides that Kiir will remain the president for more two years and Riek Machar his vice-president but prevents them from running for the presidency in the upcoming election.

Kiir and Machar rejected these clauses and have also rejected the threat of tough sanctions, supported by the UN Security Council, if they do not accept the proposed peace plan.

Observers said the disapproval of the IGAD imposed proposal puts into question the success of the regional body in mediating the conflict.

Earlier, rebels have demanded that president Kiir steps aside, accusing him of inciting the violence and administering the massacre of thousands of ethnic Nuer group who elected him into office, adding he was no longer a legitimate president.

Machar and his group wanted the root causes of the conflict to the addressed and resolved, arguing that a mere power sharing agreement imposed on the two parties by IGAD without addressing the root causes is meaningless and would unravel in a short time, plunging the country back into another crisis.

Kiir on the other hand said he would remain the president, arguing that he was elected by the people.

The South Sudanese president only provided for a second vice-president position to accommodate Machar until the next elections.

Meanwhile layers of pressures are mounting on the two parties as well as on IGAD from the western countries, particularly US to see that the war comes to a speedy end, amidst mistrust among the South Sudanese leaders.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed while 1.5 million others displaced internally and to the neighbouring Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda.