Head of PCCA delegation in the Nairobi peace talks (Courtesy photo)

Stakeholders lament exclusion from Nairobi talks

Kuel Aguer Kuel, the leader of the People’s Coalition for Civil Action (PCCA) delegation in the Nairobi peace talks, has lamented his group’s exclusion from sessions of the Tumaini Initiative.

PCCA is a civil rights movement and grouping of civil society activists that launched a public campaign in August 2021 to demand political change after turbulent and often bloody years characterized by conflicts shortly after independence.

Kuel told Radio Tamazuj in an interview that after the different views were combined into a “consensus document”, the mediation team allowed the government and the opposition to engage in direct talks without the participation of the stakeholders, including PCCA.

Kuel pointed out that their expectation was that all the parties would begin the discussions. “We regard this action as a violation of the declaration of commitment that all parties agreed to at the beginning of the talks. This is a violation of Article 9 of the document,” he added.

However, Kuel said they would continue to engage the mediation team in personal encounters, letters and just to understand why they had excluded the stakeholders at this time. 

“This situation has now lasted for three weeks. Recently, the government delegation left for Juba with the document they discussed with the opposition. We do not know if they were going for more consultations. They just travelled suddenly without a clear reason,” he said.

Kuel disclosed that after a series of deliberations with the mediation team, they consented to their participation in the upcoming talks. He said they were requested to nominate five individuals to sit with the mediation team to discuss how the stakeholders could participate in the talks.

“At first, they only agreed to two representatives, but there was strong opposition from the government. This is another violation of the commitment that we agreed upon at the beginning. The commitment clearly said nobody is better than the other during the negotiation.” 

Kuel insisted that the stakeholders have been raising issues that concern the ordinary citizens, as they do not intend to share power.

“We tackle the interests of our citizens because none of us has any intention to be in power. We do not want to mix national with personal interests. We can accept to be part of the organs that will implement the agreement, but cannot be part of the government, either in parliament or the executive,” he said.

On the credibility of the mediation team, Kuel said, “birds of a feather flock together”. He said the mediation team represents the Kenyan government and they tended to side with the Government of South Sudan.

The PCCA leader said they were drawing the mediation team’s attention that their actions indicated they were siding with some parties.

“They are afraid that if many parties take part in the negotiations, disagreement may occur and some parties could withdraw. However, we have stated clearly to them that our objective is to have a permanent peace agreement, which will rescue South Sudan. We know that this is the last chance for South Sudan to achieve this dream,” he said.

He predicted that if they failed to use the Nairobi opportunity, the world would wash their hands and leave them alone like Yemen or Libya.

Kuel emphasized the importance of an appropriate constitution that will ensure South Sudan is governed by law. “We need to find a new way to manage our regional and ethical diversity. We can only achieve that through an appropriate constitution,” he added.