Peace talks were scheduled to begin on Sunday January 6 in Ethiopia’s Capital Addis Ababa between conflicting Sudanese factions despite the escalating violence that still plagues the Sudan.
The meeting, which neither President Salva Kiir or former vice president, Riek Machar, are scheduled to attend, is set to discuss bringing about a ceasefire as well as begin discussion on the release of political prisoners currently held by both parties.
Mahboub Maalim, secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development commented in a press release that both the Presidents, “are not here now, and they will definitely not be here tomorrow.”
Their representatives are here, and in direct contact with them. The issues raised here will go to them. If they need to be in attendance, IGAD leadership will pursue them to be here.”
During the same time as scheduled peace talks were reported to occur, it was reported by BBC corespondent Alastair Leithead that a government general was killed in an attack launched by rebels about 25 km outside of Bor.
The rebel army, recently bolstered by the defection of a South Sudanese army, launched an ambush on government forces in a desperate attempt to hold onto Bor.
Leithead, who had been travelling with government troops from Juba, (the countries’s capital), since Sunday commented in a press release that the “Government has been trying for a few days to retake Bor. It still hasn’t managed to get through. We’ve seen bodies on the road and two burnt-out tanks. We’ve seen very heavy fighting between two trained armies”.
In days leading up to the assault by rebel forces, the government had deployed hundreds of reinforcements in an effort to re-take Bor, bringing the total number of government troops in the area to approximately 2000.
Despite this recent influx of government soldiers, violence continued to rage throughout the country, most notably in isolated pockets of Juba with gunshots being heard throughout the city.
Since the violence began on Dec. 15, approximately 1000 people have died with an additional 180,000 people being displaced.
Following the escalating violence between rebel and government forces, proposed peace talks failed to materialize Sunday as both parties disagreed over the official agenda.
A quote released from an unnamed official present at the meeting stated that the meeting failed due to “protocol issues”.
It is believed by many members of the global community that both the rebel and government forces are each attempting to gain the “upper hand” before either comes to peace terms, a point which fails to address the growing concern over the humanitarian crisis that continues to claim the lives of countless civilians in the Sudan.
Marie Harf, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman commented in a press release Saturday that, “The parties must use these talks to make rapid, tangible progress on a cessation of hostilities, humanitarian access and the status of political detainees.We urge the government of South Sudan to uphold its commitments and release political detainees immediately.”