South Sudan rivals in nightclub row at Addis Ababa’s Sheraton Hotel
Addis Ababa (AFP) – Peace talks between South Sudan’s government and rebels hit a new snag Monday, with some delegates complaining over the venue — one of the Ethiopian capital’s top nightclubs.
Sources close to the slow-moving talks said some delegates were unhappy that the space was too noisy, too spacious and poorly-lit — even though the talks are taking place outside the nightclub’s usual opening hours.
The peace talks had been held in another part of Addis Ababa’s luxury Sheraton hotel, but delegates had to move to their discussions to the hotel’s Gaslight nightclub, complete with dance floor and faux gold columns, because the usual room was booked out to a visiting Japanese delegation.
The negotiations are aimed at ending a month of fierce fighting in the world’s newest nation that has left thousands dead and forced an estimated 400,000 people to flee their homes. The talks are being brokered by the East African regional bloc IGAD.
Fighting started on December 15, when clashes broke out between army units loyal to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and those loyal to ex-vice president Riek Machar.
The major sticking point in the peace talks has been the release of 11 senior politicians, who Kiir accuses of staging a coup. The opposition has insisted on their release, while the government says they must face a legal process.
Negotiations are expected to resume Tuesday, though a venue for the meeting is not yet confirmed.