|South Sudan President Salva Kiir.|
By Steve Mkawale
South Sudan: The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mediation team on the South Sudan crisis has made major progress on the issue of cessation of hostilities as both the government and the detainees have committed to unconditional negotiations on the same.
According to a statement released on Wednesday night by the IGAD, Special Envoys led by their chairperson Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin met President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the detainees in Juba on conclusion of their two day mission.
The IGAD team said the detainees concurred that the crisis in the country was political and expressed their support for the talks on unconditional cessation of hostilities.
The team its chairman, said the detainees have made it clear to them that their status as detainees should not be an impediment to reaching an agreement on cessation of hostilities.
“In light of the ongoing peace talks in Addis Ababa, the detainees expressed their support to the talks on unconditional cessation of hostilities and further stated that their status as detainees should not be an impediment to reaching an agreement on cessation of hostilities,” read the statement in part.
General (rtd) Lazaro Sumbeiywo, General Mohammed Ahmed Moustafa El Dabi and the IGAD Executive Secretary Ambassador (Eng) Mahboub Maalim were also present during the talks that took place shortly after the team met with President Kiir.
President Kiir reiterated his government’s position that the current crisis is political and reaffirmed his full support to the search for a political solution to the crisis.
The IGAD statement further stated that the president also expressed the government’s commitment to unconditional negotiations on cessation of hostilities to bring to an end the violence in his country.
The breakthrough in the cessation of hostilities came just hours after IGAD officials said the talks had stalled over issues of political prisoners.
That forced the IGAD team to fly to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, on Wednesday to speak about political detainees.
The crisis in South Sudan broke out on December 15, and has since turned to ethnic-based attacks.
President Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, says his former vice-president, Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, tried to launch a coup.
Machar has since denied the accusation and is demanding the release of 11 high-level detainees. Kiir has said they will be released according to the country's judicial process.