Two warring party leaders in South Sudan are scheduled to return to the negotiating table two weeks after agreeing to a cease-fire.
South Sudan in mid-December broke into a political struggle, turning into nationwide warfare between troops loyal to the government and those loyal to the country’s former vice president.
Peace delegates loyal to South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and supporters of rebel leader Riek Machar, a former vice president, signed a ceasefire on January 23 although fighting has continued.
The two sides agreed to meet again for a second phase of negotiations on a political agreement designed to address the root causes of the unrest.
“The second round of the South Sudan negotiations focusing on political dialogue and national reconciliation will officially be launched Monday,” IGAD, the regional grouping that is helping mediate the talks, said in a statement.
Seven South Sudanese political figures, who were among 11 arrested in Juba when the fighting broke out in mid-December and who were freed at the end of January, will take part in the talks, IGAD said.
The other four who were arrested — presented as Machar sympathisers — are still detained in Juba. The government side wants to try them, along with two other political .
The detainees had been a major obstacle to progress in the first round, and the fate of the four is set to come up again in the latest talks.
The military situation in large parts of this vast country largely devoid of infrastructure remains unclear.
During the two-week break in discussions IGAD said its mediators briefed the heads of state of member countries and sought their advice.
The first IGAD monitors, tasked with checking that the ceasefire is indeed implemented, were also deployed. The ceasefire, however, has already been broken several times.
The conflict, which started in the capital Juba and which spread rapidly to different parts of the country, has left thousands dead since mid-December and has caused close to 900,000 others to flee their homes.