Cyril Ramaphosa to mediate in South Sudan

2014-01-31 17:40

ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa has been roped in to represent President Jacob Zuma in South Africa’s mediation efforts in South Sudan.

South Sudan’s foreign minister, Barnaba Benjamin, told PowerFM on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa that Ramaphosa would mediate in talks following a ceasefire in the country.

However, the situation is still tense and several issues need to be resolved.

An official confirmed this, saying that Ramaphosa would go there for the ANC.

Ramaphosa was part of an ANC national executive committee delegation in October last year that travelled to South Sudan to meet President Salva Kiir to discuss ways to strengthen relations between the ANC and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.

Conflict broke out in the country in December when the army began a mutiny with Kiir calling it an attempted coup.

In a press briefing this afternoon, UN deputy secretary-general Jan Eliasson warned that “ethnic belonging has also entered the equation in South Sudan and once that genie is out of the bottle, it becomes a bigger problem”.

He said he had recently met Kiir who was much more conciliatory than a few days ago.

Earlier, at a briefing of the AU peace and security commission, a journalist said there were rumours that former president Thabo Mbeki was being sidelined in mediation efforts. Mbeki had led previous mediation efforts in the two Sudans.

But commissioner Smail Chergui denied this and said Mbeki had a deep knowledge of the situation there and would be part of the process.

Ramaphosa could not immediately be reached for comment.

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