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South Sudan - Interview

South Sudan warring parties must respect ceasefire before we talk politics, says released detainee Pagan Amum

Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

As South Sudan peace talks continue in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, former secretary general of the ruling SPLM party, Pagan Amum, told RFI on Wednesday that an agreed ceasefire must be honoured before discussion of political issues can take place. Amum, who had been arrested for treason before being later released, said via telephone that the format of any interim government was still up for negotiation.

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Could you give us an update on the situation with the talks in Addis Ababa?

The talks are now at the level of the mediators soliciting proposals on the framework and modalities for the negotiations. The parties are presenting to the mediators their positions on these modalities in preparation for the next round of talks after we adjourn these negotiations, these talks may resume in two weeks time.

There were hopes that the ceasefire signed last Friday would mean the end of fighting but that does not seem to be the case. How do you think there can be end brought to the fighting?

We definitely want the two parties, the two warring parties, to respect the agreement that they signed, that the principals signed in Addis Ababa on 9 May. Also respect the ceasefire agreement that was signed in January. This is very important so that we have an environment of cessation of hostilities to focus on the political issues that divide the country.

What are your thoughts on the various different proposals for an interim or transitional government?

Yes, there is a clear framework that has been agreed to by President Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar, which include a transitional government, a transitional period and also a transitional constitutional arrangement and transitional programme that will end the war and take South Sudan into peace. With programmes of return and resettlement of our displaced people and refugees, who have been affected by war and of course programmes of reconstruction. And the unification of the country, especially that this war, from the beginning, started as a very cruel war with sectarian character and with a lot of violence driven by anger and hostilities, animosities worked up by mostly the government of South Sudan.

There’s one particular interim government proposal that includes the provision of five rotating presidents. Is that something that you think is a good idea?

There are different proposals on the form and format or structure of the interim government, but these are all subject to negotiation.

What role are you going to play in the future?

Our immediate national priority now is to end this war, stop this war and take the country back to peace. Reunite the country and heal the wounds that have been inflicted on our people and rescue South Sudan from collapsing into chaos and disorder - this is our national priority. Therefore is what we are going to engage in, this is what myself I am going to engage in together with my colleagues in the leadership of SPLM.

Is there anything that’s important to point out to our listeners?

We seek to mobilise the people of South Sudan to work to stop this war, to forget this war. This is a senseless war, this is a cruel war, that is threatening South Sudan with collapse into chaos and disorder, into basically a failed state. This is very dangerous and this is what we have to work on and we also call on the region and the international community to support the people of South Sudan. To support the search for peace in South Sudan and bring this war to an end as possible before it is too late and before it destroys South Sudan. We, of course, are looking forward to engage in this negotiation, engaging all the parties, all the Sudanese stakeholders to bring about peace, to bring about a democratic dispensation in South Sudan.

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