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East African bloc convenes meeting on S. Sudan ahead of peace talks

East African bloc convenes meeting on S. Sudan ahead of peace talks

ADDIS ABABA,  (Xinhua) — The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African bloc, brought together South Sudanese warring parties to discuss governance and security issues ahead of a new round of peace talks scheduled for May 17.

According to the East African bloc, the consultation session, underway in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa from May 15 to 16, is providing South Sudanese parties with key information to enable them to identify optimal security arrangements, power-sharing options and challenges associated with a Transitional Government of National Unity.

It is “an opportunity for the key representatives of the parties, leading on governance and security issues, to revisit general principles and practices relating to governance and security issues during political transitions,” the East African bloc said in a statement.

The IGAD Director of Peace and Security Division, Tewolde Gebremeskel, told representatives of the South Sudanese warring parties that the seminar on governance and security was organized in order to support the parties’ deliberations during the HLRF due to start on Thursday.

“In the intervening period between Phase II of the HLRF and today, IGAD Council of Ministers have been engaging with your respective parties in Juba, Addis Ababa, and Pretoria, in order to bridge the gaps in your divergent views on the outstanding substantive issues,” Gebremeskel said.

The session on South Sudan’s governance system and security situations will be followed by a new High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) that aimed to bring peace agreement among the warring parties towards ending the conflict in the world’s youngest nation, according to IGAD.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 following political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy turned rebel chief Riek Machar led to split within the SPLA, leaving soldiers to fight alongside ethnic lines.

The 2015 peace agreement to end the conflict was weakened after the outbreak of renewed fighting in July 2016 caused the SPLA-in opposition rebel leader Machar to flee the capital.

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