SPLM/A-in-Opposition says they are ready for direct negotiations with Juba

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Addis Ababa, 7 August 2014 (WIC) - The SPLM/A-in-Opposition, led by Riek Machar, has said it is ready for direct negotiations with the South Sudan Government to "expeditiously" reach a peace agreement to end the eight month long crisis.

In a statement given to the Fifth Session of the peace talks, the SPLM/A-in-Opposition called for restriction of the negotiations to the two warring parties, suggesting that other stakeholders could participate in a consultative manner when it came to negotiations on formation of a transitional government of national unity.

The SPLM/A-in-Opposition refused to accept the presence of other groups of stakeholders, including representatives of civil society organizations, faith based groups, political parties and SPLM former detainees in the direct negotiations on Tuesday.

The SPLM/A-in-Opposition said that it believed the participation of stakeholders in the process leading to peace and stability was “significant’, but that “the  nature of the conflict and its resolution requires that we conduct direct talks between the SPLM/SPLA (in opposition) and the Government of Republic of South Sudan”, as these were “the parties to the conflict and it is imperative that they thrash out the root causes of the conflict in order to expedite a peace agreement."

The SPLM/A-in-Opposition said this round of negotiations should address all the issues under which a transitional government of national unity would be formed, adding that "without a peace agreement between the parties in conflict, there will be no Transitional Government of National Unity.

Indeed, there will be no state in South Sudan given that initial agreements on cessation of hostilities have yet to be implemented."

The SPLM/A-in-Opposition was strongly criticized this week at the US African Leaders Summit in Washington for being responsible for breaking the ceasefire.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam, Chair of IGAD, told US Secretary of State John Kerry that unless the parties reach an agreement at the talks, IGAD is planning “punitive action” that will be taken immediately after a meeting by IGAD Heads of State later this month.

IGAD which is mediating the talks issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the SPLM/A-in-Opposition should “immediately return to and fully participate” in discussions to end the violence and form a transitional government.