Warring Leaders of South Sudan Meet for Peace Talks
The two leaders at the center of the brutal civil war in South Sudan, which plunged the earth’s youngest nation into a humanitarian crisis, have met face to face for peace talks for initially in several years.
South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, met on Wednesday night with his former vice president, Riek Machar, who leads the country’s main opposition forces, within the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Yet as the day of talks proceeded on Thursday, the two sides were clear in which there was no conclusion on a potential peace deal.
A statement by Mr. Machar’s opposition spokesman called the initial meeting “cordial” as well as said in which “the two leaders discussed the prospects for peace in broad terms.” however the statement said in which “for any meaningful dialogue to take place, This particular should be within the context of a comprehensive political settlement, to ensure in which the guns can fall silent as well as a conducive environment for dialogue established.”
The meeting was facilitated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, who encouraged the two leaders to gather for an awkward hug.
South Sudan’s civil war has persisted for four as well as a half years. Fighting erupted in December 2013 between forces loyal to Mr. Kiir as well as his Dinka ethnic group as well as another faction loyal to Mr. Machar as well as the ethnic Nuer. The clashes quickly devolved into a full-fledged civil war in which fractured the nation along ethnic lines just two years after This particular gained independence by Sudan.
right now, South Sudan can be in shambles. The conflict has displaced millions, demolished the economy of a nation in which was already one of the poorest within the earth as well as left many people without reliable access to food. Previous cease-fires have largely been ignored, as well as fighting has cut off parts of the country by emergency aid.
This particular year can be likely to be the worst yet for food security, with millions potentially facing acute malnutrition. The deteriorating conditions have driven foreign governments as well as international agencies to press the leaders to return to the negotiating table.
A brief power-sharing arrangement between Mr. Kiir as well as Mr. Machar in 2016 did not hold, as well as fighting soon erupted within the capital city, Juba. Mr. Machar fled the capital, as well as then the country, as the initial peace deal fell apart. Recently Mr. Machar had been living under house arrest in South Africa.
Last month, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution giving South Sudan’s warring sides a deadline of June 30 to reach a peace deal or face sanctions.
Janardhan Rao, the South Sudan country director for the aid group Mercy Corps, said humanitarian organizations were hopeful in which the meeting between the leaders might pave the way for peace. He said the threat of international sanctions combined with the resolve of the South Sudanese people to see the conflict end had given momentum to the talks.
“The two leaders at the highest level have agreed to come together, as well as in which can be significant,” Mr. Rao said. “as well as what we are seeing, there can be a groundswell, there can be a level of frustration as well as desperation as well as there can be a lot of push by civil society organizations. They said, ‘Do not come back without peace.’”
however the work in which humanitarian groups like his have done in South Sudan has been undone repeatedly because of the fighting.
The South Sudan Civil Society Forum — a coalition of dozens of South Sudanese organizations — has been instrumental in galvanizing support for an end to the conflict.
“We call on you to demonstrate leadership at This particular critical moment, rise to the occasion, reconcile as well as save our people as well as country by further destruction as well as shame,” the letter said. “In so doing, you will save your legacy within the history of our country. We, the citizens, are watching!”
A similar campaign organized by the coalition — #SouthSudanIsWatching — has encouraged citizens to hold the government as well as opposition leaders accountable. Many shared their views on social media sites.
The talks are sponsored by Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a coalition of countries within the Horn of Africa region. The two South Sudanese leaders were joined by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, who traveled to Ethiopia to take part.
South Sudan has reached a breaking point, some aid groups say, as fighting has forced them out of part of the country. More than 100 aid workers, mostly South Sudanese, have been killed within the country since the conflict began.
Elysia Buchanan, a policy adviser on South Sudan for the aid group Oxfam, said This particular had become increasingly difficult for aid to reach those in need, even as conditions became more dire.
“This particular’s clear to all on the ground in which things are getting worse; needs have never been higher,” Ms. Buchanan said. “I think today there can be a feeling of excitement as well as anticipation — as well as I wish This particular won’t be squandered. I wish in which today in Addis there can be a sense in which they are not only negotiating the cease-fire or power-sharing, however in which they are also negotiating an end to the hunger as well as suffering of millions of South Sudanese.”
Even if a peace agreement can be reached, there will be a long road to recovery in South Sudan. War crimes — some of which could amount to crimes against humanity — have been documented on both sides. With some of the most systematic as well as widespread offenses being committed by forces loyal to Mr. Kiir’s government, This particular can be unclear whether the perpetrators will ever be held accountable.
For right now, aid groups are focusing on the immediate needs of civilians, a mission in which will face fewer obstacles if the fighting can be stopped.
“I think peace can be a precursor,” Mr. Rao said. “This particular’s not the end of This particular all, This particular’s just the starting point.”