World Bulletin / News Desk
The chief negotiator of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has denied reports that a "hitch" was behind the postponement of the second round of peace talks between South Sudan's warring parties.
"We postponed the launching because we had to make sure that the former detainees arrive here,” IGAD chief negotiator Seyoum Mesfin told a press conference on Monday.
The new round of talks between representatives of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his sacked vice president, Riek Machar, had been scheduled to be held on Monday.
But IGAD said that the planned talks had been postponed until Tuesday.
Though no exact reason was given for the move, sources cited the refusal of the government delegation to the attendance of newly released officials from the Machar camp in the fresh talks.
However, Mesfin insisted that the talks were not postponed over a dispute on the attendance of the newly released officials.
"We expect the former detainees to arrive later on Monday or until noon tomorrow," he said, adding that the detainees wanted to constructively engage in the peace talks and IGAD welcomed the move.
The chief negotiator also denied reports that Machar had conditioned the release of other four detained officials before engaging in the second round of talks with the government.
"Dr. Riek Machar told us that he will not put the question of the other four still in detention as precondition for participation in the second-phase dialogue," he said.
Mesfin said that the talks were postponed to allow Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is the current IGAD chair, to attend the talks.
He said the former detainees will attend the talks on their own without representing any side.
"They said they had nothing to do with the violence occurred in Juba before their detention," he said.
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since mid-December, when Kiir accused Machar of standing behind a failed coup attempt against his regime.
Following a month-long first round, the warring rivals signed an agreement in January calling for a cessation of hostilities.
Following the agreement, Kiir ordered the release of seven detainees who immediately left South Sudan for Nairobi.
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.Last Mod: 11 Şubat 2014, 11:10