South Sudan Peace Talks Begin in Juba

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Highly anticipated peace talks between South Sudan’s government and the country’s leading opposition group have begun in the capital Juba.

A peace deal signed in August this year between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar has done nothing to calm violence in the country. Civil war broke out in South Sudan in December 2013 after President Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of staging an attempted coup.

 

Parties urged against empty gestures

The meeting in Juba signals the first incentive shown by both warring sides to implement the peace deal they signed in August. Until now both leaders have accused the other of provocation and breaking previous agreements, while insisting they themselves remain dedicated to establishing peace in the country.

Ceasefire monitors in South Sudan have welcomed this first meeting of government and rebel representatives, however they have warned of the dangers “empty gestures” could pose.

Dialogue from both sides of the war have repeatedly spoken of peace and accused their opponents of provoking retaliation, while showing little in the way of action that could bring any real peace to South Sudan.

 

The time for transition

The aim of these latest peace meeting is to establish a transitional government that can unite both parties within a single political system and bring an end to the war in  South Sudan. For that to happen there first needs to be a transition from dialogue to genuine action from the government and opposition alike.

“There is scepticism in many quarters that peace has really come, and there are understandable doubts, that can only be addressed by meaningful action,” said Mr Festus Mogae of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), which was established to ensure the nation’s peace deal is successfully implemented.

Both the government and opposition forces have been accused by international bodies of prolonging conflict in South Sudan and committing crimes against humanity.

 

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