World Bulletin / News Desk
Representatives of South Sudan's political rivals arrived in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa late on Wednesday to resume talks aimed at ending their bloody animosities that have haunted their fledging state for about two months now.
The negotiators have returned from the Ethiopian resort town of Debre Zeit, according to an Anadolu Agency reporter.
A source close to the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), which sponsors the negotiations, said the two sides would hold talks at the Radisson Hotel in Addis Ababa.
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since mid-December, when President Salva Kiir accused sacked vice-president Riek Machar of standing behind a failed coup attempt against his regime.
The conflict has already claimed more than 10,000 lives, while the UN estimates that some 3.7 million people in South Sudan are now "severely food insecure" and more than 820,000 have been displaced.
Following a month-long first round of talks in Addis Ababa, the warring rivals signed a cessation of hostilities agreement in January.
A second round of talks kicked off last Tuesday in the presence of Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn. The two sides, however, have yet to engage in direct talks.
Uganda hosts summit on East Africa integration projects
The leaders of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Burundi and Tanzania are scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss progress on regional security cooperation, infrastructure development and the political federation.
The leaders are expected to officially launch the East African Tourist Visa and use of the identity/voter and students IDs as travel documents within the East African region, which became operational on January 1.
They will also consider a security pact on the standing East African Force to enhance the joint monitoring of regional peace and security.
Ministers, permanent secretaries and technical staff met on Wednesday to prepare for the summit's agenda.
"They met today to gauge the progress of the shared infrastructure they had agreed on," Ugandan Foreign Affairs spokesman Fred Opolot told Anadolu Agency.
These, he added, include "the railway, road and oil among others."
Opolot said the officials reviewed reports presented by each country on achievements registered in the various sectors assigned to each since the last summit in Kigali in October.
"They also had to explore how these projects will be funded and agree on a position to be presented to the presidents tomorrow," added the diplomat.
Uganda presented reports on how far it has gone with development on railway, oil refinery, information and communication technology and political federation.
Kenyan officials reported on progress regarding energy generation, oil pipeline construction as well as human resource capacity-building in the fields of railway, energy, commodity exchange, oil refining and information technology.
Rwanda, for its part, elaborated on how far it has achieved regarding the single customs territory, east African tourism Visa, use of the identity card/voter and use of students' identity cards as travel documents.
It also talked about security cooperation and airspace management.
"The presidents will have to make the final decisions tomorrow on all the agreed projects," said Opolot.
Last month, the Ugandan government ratified the East African Community Peace and Security Protocol, which is expected to boost cross boundary security, plug terrorism gaps and bolster stability.
"They have been given 10 days in this regard," it said.
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