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South Sudan Peace Talks On Brink Of Collapse Over Controversial Security Law



South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit, left, shakes hands with Pagan Amum

Peace talks in South Sudan, aimed at ending the country’s long-standing conflict, are on the verge of collapse due to a contentious new security law.

The law, passed by parliament last week, allows for the detention of individuals without an arrest warrant, sparking outrage among opposition groups.

The talks, dubbed “Tumaini” (meaning “hope” in Swahili), have been ongoing since May and had made significant progress, with a draft agreement proposing to extend the country’s transitional period and postpone the upcoming election. However, the new security law has thrown a wrench into the negotiations, with opposition groups refusing to sign the agreement unless the law is scrapped.

Pagan Amum Okiech, lead negotiator for the South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance, stated that signing the agreement would be “meaningless” if the law is enacted. “This law violates the fundamental rights and freedoms of South Sudanese citizens, it eliminates civic and political space,” Amum said. “There can be no peace or democracy under such a law.”

Human Rights Watch has also called on President Salva Kiir to reject the law, citing concerns that it would further undermine human rights and strengthen national security agencies with a history of rights abuses.

The law’s passage comes ahead of South Sudan’s first-ever election, scheduled for December 22. The election has been a point of contention, with some Western envoys recommending a delay to ensure a free and fair poll. President Kiir has insisted that the election will go ahead as planned.

The collapse of the peace talks would be a significant setback for South Sudan, which has been ravaged by conflict since 2013. The war has left approximately 400,000 people dead and millions displaced. Despite a 2018 agreement ending the five-year civil war, violence has continued to erupt in the country.

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The international community has been closely watching the peace talks, with Kenya hosting high-level meetings between government representatives and rebel opposition groups. The talks’ collapse would not only jeopardize South Sudan’s fragile peace but also have far-reaching consequences for the region.

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