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Talks resume amid fierce fighting in South Sudan

South Sudanese parties have resumed peace talks aimed at resolving a three-month political and military crisis amid continuous fighting, mediators said on Tuesday.

Announcing the resumption of the talks, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, convener of the talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, made no specific reference to the stand-off that delayed their resumption.

The talks resumed five days late following the failure by both parties to send their respective mediation teams to Addis Ababa until certain conditions were met.

“The IGAD special envoys are in consultation with the parties on the conduct of a political dialogue towards national reconciliation and healing,” an IGAD statement said.

IGAD special envoys, comprising an Ethiopian diplomat and two retired army generals from Kenya and Sudan, said the talks resumed after the arrival of delegates from both sides.

The talks adjourned on March 3 after discussions on the declaration of principles and framework of the dialogue which the parties were expected to sign.

However, failure by the two parties to honour the ceasefire agreement signed in late January had been a source of worry to the mediators.

East African leaders, who met earlier in Addis Ababa, approved a protection force to be sent to South Sudan urgently to ensure proper implementation of the ceasefire.

Fighting in the world’s youngest nation had created a humanitarian crisis, and mediators appealed to the parties to allow humanitarian access while efforts were underway to deploy peace monitors.

“IGAD special envoys remain gravely concerned about the continuing fighting in South Sudan and the flagrant breach of the cessation of hostilities agreement,” the envoys said.

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