Ramaphosa overshoots South Sudan deal

2015-02-01 15:00

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s hailing of the peace process in South Sudan may have been somewhat premature – the two rival parties remained holed up in power-sharing talks late yesterday, two days after their deadline.

Ramaphosa helped facilitate party-level talks, which ran parallel to the peace talks, on behalf of the ANC.

Writing in ANC Today on Friday, he hailed a reunification agreement reached last week in Arusha, Tanzania, between the three fighting factions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement as “a significant development”.

But yesterday, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, still could not agree on power-sharing, while a facilitator privately remarked they were so exasperated about the looming deadlock that there were even joking suggestions that the two remained in Ethiopia until they reached a deal.

Their talks took place on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa and were facilitated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

Ramaphosa did not attend this week’s talks, but a source close to the agreement in Arusha said he was sidelined because Machar accused South Africa of not being impartial because of business interests in South Sudan’s oilfields. It is unclear, though, what exactly these interests are.

A South African government source who has inside information said accusations like these were normal in a mediation deal.

“Cyril is a seasoned mediator, he knows how to do it,” the source said.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Ronnie Mamoepa, however, denied that Ramaphosa was sidelined.

“The deputy president just returned now from Tanzania, where the ANC was part of the parties that facilitated the peace agreement,” he said.

The ANC and Tanzania’s governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, led by President Jakaya Kikwete, helped facilitate the Arusha deal.

The CCM stepped in during October last year after efforts by the ANC and Ethiopia’s ruling party didn’t yield an agreement.

Mamoepa said Ramaphosa’s presence wasn’t required in Addis Ababa this week because President Jacob Zuma was there and he was fully briefed about the issues.

As far as could be established, President Zuma did not have any meetings with the South Sudanese leaders.

Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday handed over his report on the instigators of the 2013 war in South Sudan to AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

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