ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - The chief mediator in South Sudan peace talks said on Thursday he hoped a new “compromise” proposal would put an end to 18 months of ethnic bloodletting in the world’s youngest country.
Talks between President Salva Kiir and his rebel adversary Riek Machar broke up without a deal when they last met in March, in an effort to solve a political row that plunged the country into a civil war that has killed 10,000 people.
Kiir and Machar, his former deputy, have signed ceasefire deals several times, only to violate the agreements within days.
Seyoum Mesfin, a former Ethiopian foreign minister mediating on behalf of the IGAD East African regional bloc, said the talks were set to resume in mid-July. The United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Rwanda, South Africa and others would play a bigger role.
“The mediation decided to prepare a compromise document which we think and believe that all the parties can live with and continue into the establishment of the transitional government of national unity for 30 months,” Seyoum said.
The new proposed deal would allocate a vice presidential post to the rebels. A previous version had sought to create a new position of prime minister to be filled by the rebel side.
It would also scrap an earlier proposal to ban the premier-designate from standing for elections, set to take place two months before the interim period ends.
Another bone of contention at the negotiations in Addis Ababa has been the status of the two sides’ armed forces.
Seyoum said the rebels wanted to maintain separate forces throughout the three-year transitional period, while the government had so far insisted on a maximum of six months.
The proposal suggests 18 months as a deadline for integration.
More than 1.5 million people have been driven from their homes in a conflict that broadly runs along ethnic rifts that pre-date South Sudan’s gaining of independence from Sudan in 2011.
In March, the U.N. Security Council drew up a sanctions regime that threatened to blacklist anyone undermining security or interfering in the peace process, a move endorsed by the African Union this month.
The IGAD’s proposal would also establish a truth and reconciliation commission during the interim period, as well as a “hybrid” court whose lawyers, jurists and venue would be selected by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the African Union Commission’s chairwoman.
“The initial reaction we got from the delegations here is that it is a good document for negotiation,” Seyoum told Reuters. The full proposal will be submitted to the feuding sides in mid-July.
Editing by George Obulutsa and Andrew Roche