South Sudanese peace-talks chief negotiator Nhial Deng Nhial says sharing power with exiled rebel leader Riek Machar would escalate the four-year civil war, a repeat of what happened in 2013 and 2016.
“We have made it very clear that the painful experience of 2013 and 2016 cannot be repeated. Nothing has changed in terms of the relationship between President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar to convince us that if we repeat that experiment it would not end in the same way,” Nhial state-owned South Sudan Tv.
“We are no longer ready to have people being exposed to danger in the streets of our country. We know what two armies have done,” he added.
A political power struggle between both men climaxed in December 2013 only two years after independence from Sudan.
Kiir accused his then deputy Machar and ten others of attempting a coup d’état, a claim Machar vehemently denied later calling for his resignation. Fighting broke out between the government forces SPLA and a group allied to Machar SPLA – in opposition, igniting a 20 months brutal the civil war.
With Pressure from the international community and regional partners, both men signed a peace deal in August 2015. This peace agreement was later short-lived when fighting between forces loyal to the two men broke out in the capital Juba in July 2016. Kiir said his opponent had once again attempted to orchestrate another coup.
East African regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is making a fresh attempt at talks aimed at finding a lasting solution to the South Sudan crisis in the High-Level Revitalization Forum.
IGAD suspended the second phase of talks in February after warring parties failed to agree on sharing positions in the proposed Unity Government.
Article 7 of a proposal on the revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity suggested four vice presidents in South Sudan during a 36-month transitional period to supervise the implementation of reforms outlined in the agreement to revive the collapsed 2015 peace deal.
The government’s delegates further refused to approve the Declaration of Principles (DOP), intended to guide the second phase of high-level talks. They cited concerns over the document’s Article 28, which calls for taking punitive measures against individuals who block implementation of the revived peace deal
IGAD’s Special Envoy for South Sudan, Ambassador Ismail Wais, is asking the body’s Council of Ministers to review and take appropriate action on the status of Machar, who is held under house arrest in South Africa.
His detention was reportedly reached by IGAD countries in order to keep him away in the hope of preventing fighting in the world’s youngest nation.
Ismail said a report to be presented to the IGAD Council of Ministers that opposition and other stakeholders throughout the peace forum raised questions about the participation of Machar in the forum. He also called on the bloc to loo into the release of all political prisoners.
Article 8 of the cessation of hostilities deal signed last year says each party should unconditionally release all prisoners of war, political detainees and abducted women and children to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) without delay, but many political prisoners are still in detention.