South Sudan’s armed opposition faction (SPLM-IO) has been invited to attend the high-level peace revitalization forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 17-22 December.
“You may recall that the IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] assembly of heads of state and government at its 31st extra-ordinary summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 12 June, 2017, decided to urgently convene a High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) of the parties to the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS), including estranged groups,” the letter signed by Ethiopia’s prime minister partly reads.
In the 8 December letter addressed to Riek Machar, organizers of the meeting said they consider as key measures to restore a permanent ceasefire, full and inclusive implementation of the peace agreement and revise realistic timelines and implementation schedules towards democratic election at the end of the transitional period.
The High-Level revitalization forum will kick off in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 18-22 December after the extraordinary session of the IGAD council of ministers due to take place from15-16 December.
“Your Excellency, all participants to the HLRF will be representing their respective parties. Hence, I wish to kindly request you to delegate three (03) duly- authorized representatives of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-in opposition (SPLM-IO) who will participate in the forum. In this regard, I recommend that at least one of the delegates could be a woman”, further states the letter.
“I strongly believe your Excellency that your wise leadership in this important initiative to revitalize the agreement on the resolution of the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) is very critical,” it adds.
The Ethiopian prime minister said in the letter that he was optimistic the armed opposition group will seize this historic opportunity to engage earnestly to revitalize the ARCSS, cease all forms of hostilities, end the conflicts and re-establish a firm foundation to building sustainable peace, stability and democracy in the war-torn nation.
The Troika countries earlier called a conducive environment for the peace revitalization process and warned that sanctions would be imposed on those who violate the ceasefire and obstruct humanitarian assistance ahead of the IGAD-brokered peace forum.
In June, a summit of IGAD heads of state and government decided to convene a meeting of the signatories of the South Sudan peace agreement to discuss ways to revitalize the peace implementation. During the June summit, it was agreed that all groups be included in the discussion aimed at restoring a permanent ceasefire.
The South Sudanese government earlier warned that the revitalization forum by the regional bloc, which mediated the 2015 peace deal, should not be another platform for negotiations of the peace accord between the two factions to the conflict.
Over a million people have fled South Sudan since conflict erupted in December 2013 when President Kiir sacked Machar from the vice-presidency. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million displaced in South Sudan’s worst violence since it seceded from Sudan in July 2011.