Addis Ababa , Ethiopia ( Agencies + DIPLOMAT.SO) – A group of pro-government political parties headed by South Sudan’s Cabinet Affairs Minister Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro have been deported from Ethiopia in response to Juba preventing opposition leader Lam Akol from traveling to the Addis Ababa talks.
Elia and his group traveled to Addis Ababa with the government delegation last week to participate in the peace talks, but Akol, who leads a group of independent opposition parties, said he was prevented from boarding his flight minutes before takeoff on orders of President Salva Kiir.
Speaking on Sunday at a hotel in Juba, Elia said an IGAD administrator approached his delegation hours after they arrived in Addis Ababa and told them arrangements were made for them to return to South Sudan the next day.
Elia said the administrator showed them a document reading: “unless Dr Lam Akol is allowed to travel with his delegation, the IGAD mediators reject your participation and have directed us to inform you accordingly.”
The minister in Kiir’s cabinet said IGAD was not fully informed about what happened to Lam in Juba. He claimed that Akol was requested to obtain clearance and wait for travel permit from authorities but refused to wait. Akol said a police official prevented him from boarding the plane.
“Why didn’t the IGAD mediators prevent the government delegation from traveling because it was the government not political Parties which Prevented Dr. Lam Akol from traveling?” Elia also charged.
Elia accused IGAD of bias against Kiir’s government, and urged the venue of the peace talks move to either Tanzania, Rwanda, or South Africa.
“The attitudes of the IGAD mediators seem to favour groups both internal and external that are opposed to the democratically elected government of South Sudan in fulfillment of their regime change agenda,” he accused.
“It is now our conclusion that for peace to return to South Sudan the entire IGAD mediation team must be reconstituted. While [Kenyan] General Lazarus Sumbeiywo may be acceptable definitely, Seyoum Mesfin [of Ethiopia] and Mohammed Ahmed Mustaffa El Daby [of Sudan] must be replaced,” he said.
He said the two latter countries are undemocratic and have their own rebels so are unfit to negotiate peace in South Sudan.
This is the latest incident in an ongoing power struggle within the “political parties” group of stakeholders meant to participate in the peace talks between Akol’s group of opposition parties and Elia’s group parties which have joined the government.
Last year IGAD deported Elia’s associate Martin Tako from Ethiopia. Tako had claimed to represent the political parties after South Sudanese authorities prevented Lam from traveling to Addis Ababa during a previous round of talks.