South Sudan peace talks adjourned | Africa | DW | 06.03.2015
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South Sudan peace talks adjourned

South Sudan's warring factions have let a deadline for a peace deal slip by and their talks in Addis Ababa have now been adjourned indefinitely. There are fears the civil war will worsen if no agreement is signed.

Peace talks between South Sudan warring factions were adjourned on Friday and no date was set for the next meeting, the Reuters news agency reported.

Regional mediators trying to broker an agreement between South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar had decided to allow the talks in Addis Ababa continue into Friday (06.03.2015), after Thursday's deadline (21:00 UTC) for a comprehensive peace deal expired.

The mediators from the East African regional bloc IGAD had urged Kiir and Machar "to use the limited time that remains to make progress on the outstanding issues on the mediation agenda."

DW's correspondent in Addis Ababa Colleta Wanjohi said early on Friday morning the two sides were going into face-to-face consultations again but "looking at the issues the way they are, we don't see an agreement coming out of this."

A member of the rebel delegation who spoke to DW seemed unaware of any sense of urgency.

"The aspect of timing should not matter. It is not about deadlines being set by the mediation. It is about accomplishing the underlying issues and ensuring that the agreement that is signed in comprehensive and durable," he said.

Kindersoldat im Süd-Sudan

There has been widespread use of child soldiers in the war in South Sudan

IGAD chief mediator Seyoum Mesfin told reporters on Thursday that security and power sharing were "critical areas that have kept the parties apart and they are still tackling them.

Mediators have become increasingly frustrated by the inability of the two sides to bury their differences. Mesfin has called this - the eighth round of talks - the "last chance."

Kiir and Machar shunned the opening of the talks on February 23 and only met face-to-face for the first time - in this round of consultations - on Tuesday (03.03.2015).

South Sudan's war began in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar, his former deputy, of planning a coup.

The fighting quickly acquired an ethnic dimension with Dinka soldiers loyal to Kiir accused of massacring members of Machar's Nuer tribe in the capital Juba. The Nuer then mounted revenge attacks.

The violence spread and tens of thousands have been killed and two million uprooted by fighting in the intervening months.

Peace talks were convened by IGAD within weeks of the start of the fighting, but they have so far only led to a string of failed ceasefires and broken promises.

Südsudan Waffenstillstand 01.02.2014 Addis Abeba

President Salva Kiir (left) and South Sudan's rebel commander Riek Machar (right) exchange documents after signing a ceasefire agreement in February 2015

UN Security Council mulling sanctions

DW's Colleta Wanjohi said that if this latest agreement does not come through there may well be in an increase in violence on the ground.

Ratcheting up the pressure on the warring factions, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution earlier this week that will allow sanctions to be imposed on individuals deemed to be undermining peace efforts. This would include leaders, or officials, who obstruct peace talks, impede humanitarian aid deliveries, recruit child soldiers or attack UN peacekeepers.

Meanwhile Reuters is reporting that an African Union (AU) inquiry has called for Kiir and Machar to be barred from any transitional government and for the oil producing country to effectively be placed under AU control.

The AU recommendations are at odds with the deal being negotiated in Addis Ababa that would retain Kiir as president and Machar as his deputy.

The inquiry also blamed the United States, Britain and Norway for creating "a politically unchallenged armed power" by backing a 2005 peace deal that "ushered in an unaccountable political class".

The findings were to be presented to the African Union's Peace and Security Council on January 29 but the body shelved publication of the report.

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