Nairobi, Jan 5: The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) announced the commencement of formal negotiations between South Sudan’s warring parties in Addis Ababa and lauded the work of the special envoys in ensuring success of the talks.
In a statement issued in Nairobi, Mahboub M. Maalim, IGAD executive secretary and Kenya’s ambassador to the eight-nation East African bloc, said the decision came after two days of extensive proxy talks that sought to understand key issues, as well as agree on agenda items and modalities for negotiations, Xinhua reported.
“Ambassador Maalim stated that negotiations will focus on two agenda items – cessation of hostilities; and the question of detainees,” said a statement from the regional bloc.
Maalim expressed IGAD’s confidence and that of the special envoys that the negotiations would bear fruit and ensure a speedy return to normalcy, peace, and stability in South Sudan.
About 1,000 people have been killed and up to 200,000 others displaced since deadly clashes erupted between the warring parties in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, and spilled over to other parts of the country.
The clashes erupted when President Salva Kiir said soldiers loyal to his former vice president Riek Machar, dismissed from office in July last year, launched an attempted coup.
Kiir belongs to the Dinka ethnic group and Machar to the Lou Nuer. The conflict has been increasingly marked by reports of ethnically targeted violence.