The second round of the South Sudan peace talks, which started on February 5 in Addis Ababa, hit a snag on Friday when the government delegation objected to a clause calling for punitive measures against saboteurs of the peace process.
Previous agreements have been violated within hours of signing.
The government side consequently refused to sign the Declaration of Principles, which will guide the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mediated talks meant to revive the 2015 peace deal.
The government of President Salva Kiir feels that it is being targeted for sanctions and cannot be treated equally with the rebels, as they have “a country to run and law and order to keep.”
The main objection by the government delegation led by the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Martin Lomoru, is Article 28 in the agreement on Declaration of Principles.
It says, “IGAD should take all necessary measures including those decided by the IGAD heads of state and government in November 2014 against peace spoilers.”
Diplomatic sources in Addis Ababa said that the government believes that punitive measures are an agenda being pushed by Troika of United States, United Kingdom and Norway, the main sponsors of the South Sudan peace process.
The United States has already sanctioned several individuals and officers of the South Sudan army and recently imposed an arms embargo on the South Sudan government.
IGAD mediators were forced to form a sub-committee that will negotiate for a compromise as the talks continue in other areas such as the composition of the executive, parliament, security arrangements and the judicial reforms.
Earlier, South Sudan minister for information Michael Makuei, who is also the government spokesperson, had stated that Juba will not accept the reconstitution of the government and the issue of two armies.
Once the negotiations resume, the delegates will discuss the effectiveness and composition of the Transitional Government of National Unity whose term ends in October.