Peace talks in South Sudan face collapse over new law

The new Bill allows the detention of people without an arrest warrant scratched out in order to sign a proposed agreement

Published - July 11, 2024 09:46 am IST

Salva Kiir Gregorio Borgia.

Salva Kiir Gregorio Borgia. | Photo Credit: AP

South Sudan peace talks that almost reached completion faced a stumbling block with opposition groups demanding a newly passed Bill allowing the detention of people without an arrest warrant scratched out in order to sign a proposed agreement.

Kenya has been hosting high-level meetings since May between government representatives and rebel opposition groups who were not part of a 2018 agreement that ended a five-year civil war, leaving about 4,00,000 people dead and millions displaced.

Despite the agreement, violence often erupted in the country of 9 million.

Pagan Amum Okiech, negotiating on behalf of the South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance, said on Tuesday night that it would be “meaningless to sign any agreement if the draconian National Security Act is signed into law by the President.”

Last week, parliament voted in favour of the 2015 Bill and President Salva Kiir will have to approve it within 30 days for it to become a law. This comes ahead of the country’s first-ever election on December 22.

“This law violates the fundamental rights and freedoms of South Sudanese citizens, it eliminates civic and political space,” Mr. Amum said. “There can be no peace or democracy under such a law.”

Human Rights Watch has also called on Mr. Kiir to reject the controversial Bill saying that it will further undermine human rights and strengthen national security agencies that have a history of longstanding rights abuses.

Some Western envoys also recommend delaying the poll “to guarantee a free and fair election”, but Mr. Kiir has been adamant about having the election in December.

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