JUBA, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- The East Africa's bloc said on Friday that its special envoy to South Sudan has stepped up consultations with the leaders ahead of the high-level revitalization forum slated for Dec. 13.
Ismail Wais, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Special Envoy for South Sudan, held talks with regional partners, President Salva Kiir, his vice-presidents Taban Deng Gai and James Wani Iga as well as ministers of the unity government to shore up peace prospects ahead of the forum.
"Many viewed the process as a timely opportunity to restore peace and implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS)," Wais said in a statement issued in Juba.
The bloc said the forum, which is expected to commence soon after the meeting of IGAD ministers on Dec. 11-12 in Juba, will discuss full implementation of the peace agreement and develop a revised and realistic timeline.
"The convening of the forum will follow the meeting of the IGAD Council of Ministers. The Council is expected to provide further guidelines on the modalities, structure and other details on how the forum will be organized," the envoy said.
Wais has since held 31 consultative meetings as part of wider continuous engagements he has had with key South Sudanese stakeholders and the international community, critical for the successful convening of the forum.
"Many of the positions advanced and proposals submitted during the consultation process were very valuable. They must be considered at some stage whether before, during or after the Revitalization Forum, if the cycle of violence is to be broken and for lasting peace to be restored in South Sudan," he said.
During the Friday consultations in Juba, Wais briefed the partners of the regional effort in convening an inclusive forum.
He said consultations which were also held with the different opposition parties, armed groups and civil society including women and refugee groups are aimed at achieving the objectives of the Forum.
The envoy noted the overwhelming support towards the Forum and expressed the high expectations by all stakeholders on the ARCSS revitalization process.
Meanwhile, South Sudan peace guarantors on Friday refuted report by the government that they have agreed to exclude rebel leader Riek Machar from the December forum.
The guarantors under Troika which comprises Britain, Norway and United States, maintained that all parties that have a stake in South Sudan's future must be represented at the forum and commit to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
"We continue to make this point to all parties, including the government and Machar, as part of our full support for IGAD's revitalization efforts," the group said in a joint statement.
Machar is being held in South Africa to prevent him from going back to South Sudan as part of an agreement reached by regional leaders.
Analysts see the High-Level Peace Revitalization Forum launched in July by the regional leaders as the last chance to end the war in the world's youngest nation.
South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Kiir and his former deputy turned rebel chief Machar led to split within the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), leaving soldiers to fight alongside ethnic lines.
The 2015 peace agreement to end the conflict was weakened after outbreak of renewed fighting in July 2016 and caused the SPLA-in opposition rebel leader Machar to flee the capital.