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Africa

Little optimism over South Sudan's peace talks

South Sudan peace negotiations are due to resume in Addis Ababa. The last round of talks between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar ended in deadlock after they failed to agree on a power sharing deal.

Another round of negotiations, and hopefully, another agreement, but experts are skeptical. As part of a new push by regional leaders, chief negotiators have been presented with a power sharing formula to try and bridge the gap between South Sudan's warring leaders.

Emmanuel Kisiangani, a political analyst on South Sudan at the Institute for Security Studies in Nairobi, told DW he sees little chance of a transitional government resolving the power struggle in South Sudan's SPLM.

"Controlling the party [SPLM], you control the government, you control the resources, it's about the power, and this power has a history," Kisiangani said. He said that the conflict in South Sudan had assumed ethnic dimensions.

"If you bring the two guys together, I'm not sure how they are going to work. Particularly when you expect the work to bring about reforms because what is needed in South Sudan is fundamental institutional reform," Kisiangani said.

Overlapping peace initiatives

Mneawhile it appears that a new level of complexity has been added to the peace process.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar shake hands.

Previous ceasefire deals between President Kiir (right) and Machar (left) have failed

In addition to IGAD-led talks in Addis Ababa, South Africa is spearheading a separate initiative. It wants to reunite the three factions of the ruling SPLM party, under the so-called Arusha Agreement.

The Arusha Agreement, signed in January 2015, sets out how divisions in the SPLM might be overcome.

"The real issue is the will to commit and to respect what we have agreed and signed in Arusha. We are not seeing that. Riek is not accepting Arusha and Salva is not respecting Arusha," Oyai Deng, a former minister of national security and member of SPLM G10, one of the three SPLM factions, told DW in an interview.

The '10' in Deng's group refers to10 former political detainees. According to the former minister, the Arusha Agreement could turn into yet another failed process in South Sudan's quest for peace.

Accusations and counter-accusations

Earlier this month, a delegation of the exiled G10 returned to Juba for the first time since the crisis erupted. The visit was hailed as a first step to healing the splits within the SPLM. But in the absence of Riek Machar's faction, the initiative lacked the impact South African mediators were hoping for.

Machar's conspicuous absence also helped the South Sudanese government to position itself more favorably ahead of the upcoming peace talks in Addis Ababa.

President Salva Kiir's spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny blamed the rebels for imposing unrealistic demands – the rebels have levelled the same allegation at the government.

"It is the intransigency of the rebels that has led to the peace deal not being signed. But the government is genuine, the government is negotiating in good faith," Wek Ateny rold DW..

Calls to silence the guns

The world's youngest nation has been engulfed in a civil conflict since December 2013, when a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar turned violent.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar shake hands.

Previous ceasefire deals between President Kiir (right) and Machar (left) have failed

There have been numerous cessation of hostilities agreements but they have all failed to stop the fighting. Thousands have died in the fighting and over 2 million have been displaced.

Analysts say the drive for greater territorial control ahead of the next round of peace talks has contributed to the most recent surge in fighting on both sides.

Many observers say what is really needed is a cessation of hostility agreement that can be enforced, thereby giving leaders a chance to work out a viable peace deal.

But a workable ceasefire pact doesn't appear to be on the table in Addis Ababa.

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