The South Sudan peace talks, which started on February 5 in Addis Ababa, have stalled after the government delegation objected to a clause calling for punitive measures against saboteurs of the peace process.
The issue of accountability has been the main thread among the mediators and the international community in this last attempt to bring peace to South Sudan because previous agreements have been violated within hours of signing.
The talks under the mediation of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) stalled on Thursday, after mediators and the opposition added to the clause that would allow the region and sponsors to impose punitive measures against individuals who violate the peace process.
The government of President Salva Kiir feels that it is being targeted for sanctions and cannot be treated equally with the rebels, as they have “a country to run and keep law and order.”
The main objection by the government delegation led by the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Martin Lomoru, is Article 28 in the agreement on Declaration of Principles, which will form the guidelines to the talks. It says, “Igad should take all necessary measures including those decided by the Igad heads of state and government in November 2014 against peace spoilers.”
The government delegation refused to sign the Declaration of Principles.
The Igad Heads of State Extraordinary Summit held in Addis Ababa in November 2014 heard that any violation of the cessation of the hostilities by any party will invite collective action by the region against those responsible for such violations. Such action includes asset freezes, travel bans within the region, denial of the supply of arms and ammunition, and any other material that could be used in war.
“Further, the Igad region shall, without further reference to the warring parties, take the necessary measures to directly intervene in South Sudan to protect life and restore peace and stability,” said a communique released after the summit.But Igad has never applied these measures since the fighting started in 2013 due to vested economic and political interests of countries in the region that crept in as the war progressed.