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South Sudan warring parties draw red line ahead of next round of peace talks

South Sudan rival parties at a past meeting in Addis Ababa.

JUBA – Rival parties in South Sudan peace talks have drawn lines, setting tough positions over key issues requiring compromise from both sides to end the more than four-year civil war.

The South Sudanese presidential adviser on decentralization and intergovernmental linkage, Tor Deng Mawien told journalists that he is optimistic the next round of peace talks would result in a peace deal if the demands of the opposition are realistic.

The last round of talks came to a stalemate when opposition groups insisted President Salva Kiir steps down and key institutions are dissolved. There is no indication that the Juba government will accept that the president step downs as the first stage of a political transition.

“The position of the transitional government of national unity has been clear from when the revitalization talks started. The IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] was also clear. The objective of the revitalization was to examine the peace and see areas where there is a need to expedite implementation. It was not new negotiations. But in Addis now, the opposition has taken revitalization to mean renegotiations and that is why they came up with demands which have nothing to do with the peace agreement,” Mawien said on Wednesday.

“The IGAD was not calling for a renegotiation of the agreement,” he added.

The presidential aide, instead, proposed what he called a “comprehensive plan” that included an “expanded government”.

The official, during the interview, repeatedly referred to “plots” against his country and the role of the opposition, long portrayed as an element in what started as a political wrangle for power in 2013.

Mawien said the young nation was not facing a revolution, but simply a “bunch of power hungry politicians” and “western puppets.

“We are now in a state of war in every sense of the word and actions”, stressed the presidential aide.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (front L) and South Sudan’s rebel commander Riek Machar exchange documents after signing a ceasefire agreement during the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Summit on the case of South Sudan in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, Feburary 1, 2015. The two rivals Kiir and Machar have signed a couple of ceasefire agreements although the fighting continues: NET PHOTO

The spokesman for the group of the country’s former detainees described president Kiir as “a clear obstacle to peace and stability”.

“When the president regrets saying he saved lives of some people, what does it mean? It means it he has no intention to stop the war and this implies that he is a clear obstacle to peace and return of stability to the country. With such thinking, even if he is forced to sign the peace agreement, he will not honour it,” Kosti Manibe said Wednesday.

He added, “That is why our proposal advocates stepping down because he [Kiir] will not implement the agreement. The agreement requires a genuine partner but Salva Kiir can never be a genuine partner”.

Addressing mourners of the late army chief, Gen. James Ajongo Mawut in the capital, Juba, Kiir accused the opposition of working to ensure he relinquishes power.

“That is why our proposal advocates stepping down because he [Kiir] will not implement the agreement. The agreement requires a genuine partner but Salva Kiir can never be a genuine partner”.

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