World Bulletin/News Desk
Chief mediator of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)in South Sudan peace talks Seyoum Mesfin has asserted that punitive measures against parties considered to be deliberately derailing the process is a possibility.
"The stick is raised" but sanctions would only come "when we are absolutely convinced that there is no hope," Mesfin told reporters in a press briefing moments before the start of the IGAD summit in Addis Ababa.
Mesfin urged the two warring parties, the government and rebels led by sacked vice-president Riek Machar, to swiftly find a common ground on implementation modalities of the Cessation of Hostilities agreement they signed earlier in the year.
The two warring parties, he said, should give way and agree to the disengagement component of the IGAD-proposed security matrix, which calls on the forces of the two sides to stick to their designated sites.
Meanwhile, Seyoum denounced the death of a member from IGAD's Monitoring and Verification team in South Sudan of shock when the delegation was intercepted near Bentiu in Unity state by militants.
"We condemn the act," he said. Those responsible would be held to account for the action."
Meanwhile, South Sudan said Sunday its delegation to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) summit came with "open heart and mind" to find a solution to the lingering crisis which has gripped the world's youngest nation for months.
"We want peace and stability in South Sudan because we are the representative of its people," Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told Anadolu Agency.
Benjamin arrived in Addis Ababa as part of the government's delegation, led by President Salva Kiir, to the IGAD summit, due to kick off later today.
He said his government is exerting relentless efforts to render the IGAD-mediated peace talks a success, noting that Juba is ready to offer "more facilitations" to end the crisis.
The foreign minister did not, however, elaborate on what kind of facilitations he was talking about.
Benjamin defended, meanwhile, a decision by the government's negotiators to boycott recent sessions of talks in Addis Ababa, citing a "negative" stance by the IGAD mediators.
He also voiced Juba's reservations about a recent tour by sacked vice-president and rebel leader Riek Machar to some IGAD nations.
Benjamin said the visits gave the rebels the "wrong message" and had them show "intransigent" stances during the peace talks.
South Sudan's rebels have confirmed the capture and later release of a helicopter operated by the IGAD's Monitoring and Verification Mechanism.
"I can confirm our forces of SPLM/A-in opposition have seized the helicopter," Mabior Garang, a spokesperson for the rebels, told Anadolu Agency.
"This happened this morning and we have set free the helicopter," he said.
Earlier Sunday, IGAD special envoy Seyoum Mesfin said that a helicopter was seized in South Sudan and an officer died of a heart attack.
Garang, the son of late leader John Garang, denied any responsibility for the officer's death.
"We can't take responsibility for a natural death," he said.
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when President Salva Kiir accused Machar of plotting to overthrow his regime.
Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have since been displaced in fighting between the two rivals, leading to an increasingly dire humanitarian situation for large swathes of the country's population.
In recent months, the warring camps have held on-again, off-again peace talks in Addis Ababa under the auspices of the Djibouti-based IGAD.
Representatives of both sides are currently in Addis Ababa to discuss implementation of a June agreement to draw up a transitional government.
The peace talks are expected to top the agenda of the IGAD summit on Sunday.Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Ağustos 2014, 16:58