Republic of South Sudan delegation to peace talks in Ethiopia. The talks with ousted Vice President Riek Machar were stalled on January 8, 2014., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
THURSDAY 30 JANUARY 2014
S. Sudan rebels concerned over lack of representation at AU summit
By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
January 29, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) - Ethiopian officials on Wednesday assured South Sudan rebels not to be concerned for not being represented at the Africa Union leaders’ summit at which the crisis in South Sudan is among top on agenda for discussion.
Addis Ababa made the assurances after rebel negotiators, who were alarmed at late hours, Wednesday made a request at the Ethiopian foreign ministry to take part at the Africa head of states and governments summit which is due to commence on Thursday.
The rebels were concerned that the South Sudan government delegation led by president kiir might at the summit make complaints and accusations against rebels taking their absence as an advantage.
South Sudan president Salva Kiir is slated to deliver a speech at the opening session tomorrow.
The rebels were trying to prevent the summit hears a one side story until they received guarantee from Ethiopian officials this afternoon.
"Ethiopian officials told me that it will not be the government of the republic of South Sudan to raise the issue though President Kiir is scheduled to have a speech," Bor Gatwech, an MP and Humanitarian Liaison Officer for SPLM/A In Opposition here in Addis Ababa told Sudan Tribune.
South Sudan Issue will be debated in the Summit as a report from the regional mediators.
"Technically, the Summit will be debating and eventually endorsing the report of the mediators. So they [Ethiopian officials] assure me that there is nothing to worry about even if not represented at the Summit," Gatwech added.
Despite a cease fire agreement signed last week between South Sudan government and rebel group led by former vice president, Riek Machar, fighting has continued in parts of South Sudan with both sides repeatedly trading accusation of violating the peace pact aimed to end weeks of violence.
South Sudan government information Minister, Michael Makuei, on Wednesday accused rebels of continuing to violate ceasefire agreement.
"The ceasefire agreement is defective" said Makuei.
He further accused regional mediators of failure to come up with a monitoring mechanism in time and as a result he said "rebels have used this opportunity to violate and attack government forces"
"They [rebels] have actually put our forces in a defensive position" he added.
As part of the broader peace pact signed in Addis Ababa last Thursday, the South Sudanese government has released 7 of the 11 political prisoners who had been detained with alleged accusation of having links with a "coup attempt".
The release of political detains comes about two days ahead of the continental summit which the issue of political prisoners is expected to be touched by IGAD mediators.
Fighting which broke out in mid December between forces loyal to president Salva Kiir and those rebels backing to ex-vice president Riek Machar, has killed thousands and forced an estimated half a million people flee their home.