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ADDIS ABABA - 17 May 2018

IGAD opens fresh round of South Sudan peace talks

Another round of South Sudan peace talks began officially in Ethiopia, amid growing international impatience with the country's civil war that has defied all attempts to end the conflict.

The South Sudanese peace talks were scheduled to begin from 17th May– 21st May. The peace forum is organized by the regional East Africa group IGAD.

The South Sudan parties, stakeholders and diplomatic community are all present in the conference hall. The official opening has started with prayers.

International and regional bodies have been urging South Sudan leaders not to waste the opportunity of the peace talks although various peace deals have been signed and then broken, most recently in December 2017.

Every time, each side accuses the other of responsibility for the breakdown and unrelenting violence.

Atem Simon, a political analyst and journalist based in Juba, expressed pessimism about a peace deal between the South Sudan parties during this round of talks as IGAD, the regional bloc which oversees the peace process, continued its efforts to revive the deadlocked peace talks.

“I see that the positions are still divergent and far apart as we have seen it after the recent intensive consultations in Addis Ababa despite the shuttle diplomacy by the IGAD foreign ministers since 12 May,” Atem said.

The South Sudanese journalist noted it would be difficult to see a breakthrough to end the ongoing conflict during this round of talks despite the international and regional pressure on South Sudan. “The current situation clearly shows the warring parties are not ready to make concessions to sign a peace deal,” he said.

Atem said he sees that the role of Uganda and Egypt as brokers of the Arusha reunification agreement that attempts to reunify SPLM factions through a conflict resolution mechanism could also delay peace through the IGAD-led peace forum in Addis Ababa.

“The government might present proposals to delay the singing of a peace accord with the hope of giving ample time for bilateral talks on the reunification process between the government and the opposition through Uganda and Egypt,” he said.

“The president seems to be more interested in a bilateral agreement between the government and the opposition led by Riek Machar to guarantee their stay in power, and this is clear after the recent call by the president for Riek Machar to return,” he said.

Atem emphasized the need for an inclusive peace agreement that encompasses all relevant actors for the sake of lasting peace in South Sudan.