World Bulletin / News Desk
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African trade bloc that has mediated months-long peace talks between South Sudan's warring rivals, has indefinitely postponed the second round of talks, IGAD sources said.
According to the sources, talks were suspended after they hit a snag over the participation of seven ruling party leaders who were released by Juba after having been earlier accused of involvement in a failed coup attempt against President Salva Kiir.
Sources close to the government delegation in Addis Ababa confirmed that the second round of talks had been postponed, but only to the end of the month.
The IGAD sources said that the bloc's mediators had refused to sign a declaration of principles unless the government delegation agreed to allow the seven figures, who hail from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), to participate.
The seven figures had been among 11 senior officials and party leaders rounded up and charged with conspiracy after Kiir accused his sacked vice president, Riek Machar, of plotting a coup against him.
The decision to suspend the talks came following a wave of violence in capital Juba that subsequently spilled over into several parts of the country.
The seven figures were later handed over to the Kenyan government with a view to facilitating ongoing peace talks.
According to the IGAD sources, the government delegation rejected the bloc's demand to allow the seven leaders to take part in the talks.
South Sudanese Information Minister Michael Makuei, for his part, told a local radio station from Addis Ababa that his government rejected pressure by IGAD to let the group participate in the talks.
The proposed declaration of principles, he said, should only be signed by the warring rivals.
The conflict in South Sudan has already claimed more than 10,000 lives, with the U.N. estimating that some 3.7 million people in the country are now "severely food insecure" while around one million have been displaced by the violence.
Following weeks of talks in Addis Ababa, the two sides signed a cessation of hostilities agreement in January.Last Mod: 05 Nisan 2014, 10:03