After almost two weeks of negotiations, the South Sudan peace talks in Addis Ababa collapsed after the delegates disagreed on virtually all the key issues.
The talks ended in a stalemate after opposition groups demanded that President Salva Kiir be excluded from the transitional government because he has continuously abrogated the 2015 peace agreement.
By the close of the session on Friday, the only positive outcome was the consensus on the restructuring of the Transitional Government of National unity (TGoNU) to incorporate armed and non-armed groups that were left out of the 2015 peace agreement.
However, the talks hit a deadlock over the power-sharing ratio and security arrangement that were still going on as we went to press on Friday.
The talks were slated for February 5-16 to review all the five chapters of the 2015 South Sudan Peace Agreement and their stage of implementation.
Only Chapter 1 that deals with governance and the structure of government was partially covered.
Last week, the talks had stalled after the government delegation refused to sign the Declaration of Principles objecting to Article 28 calling for punitive measures against saboteurs of the peace process.
The many boycotts and walkouts forced the Inter-Governmental Authority of Development (Igad) mediators to change the format from endless debate in the plenary to written submissions and sub-committees to save time.
Igad mediators had proposed that the government ratio be reduced from 53 per cent that was in the 2015 peace agreement to 51 per cent and 49 per cent for the government and opposition respectively.
However, the government opposed the idea, while the opposition groups, according to Emmanuel Aban, had proposed that the government takes 50 per cent and leave the other half to the opposition.
The opposition also demanded suspension of discussions on power-sharing to focus on principles such as the removal of state of emergency, system of governance based on federalism, annulment of 32 states, principles of lean government, and resignation of President Salva Kiir.
Other proposals that the government was not comfortable with were that it dissolves the transitional government and reconstitute it afresh.
Juba also wanted the 2015 provision for two separate armies be struck out and the rebels and other militias be incorporated into the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
According to the South Sudan ambassador to Ethiopia, James Morgan, who is also the permanent representative to the African Union, the government agreed to incorporate armed and non-armed groups in TGoNU.
Mr Morgan noted that this was a major concession by the government and that it is now up to the opposition to adjust their demands.
The government is also rejected Igad’s proposal that President Kiir remains the head of state but with four vice presidents to accommodate other groups that were left out of the 2015 agreement but who are now part of the talks in Addis Ababa.
Igad had suggested a 36-month transitional period to allow the reconstituted TGoNU to supervise the implementation of reforms outlined in the agreement to revive the collapsed 2015 peace deal.
The Igad proposal offered the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition, led by Dr Riek Machar, 28 per cent representation down from 33 per cent in the 2015 agreement with nine ministerial portfolios.
Other armed groups have been offered 14 per cent of ministerial portfolios with four ministerial positions, and former detainees and other political parties were offered seven per cent to nominate two ministers each.
The AU Peace and Security Council is pushing for the TGoNU to urgently sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of the Hybrid Court to try those who have committed atrocities.