South Sudan peace talks put on hold again

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir gives a speech at the airport in Juba on August 10, 2014 (AFP Photo/Samir Bol) (AFP/File)

Addis Ababa (AFP) - The stop-start talks between warring factions in South Sudan, which have borne little fruit since they began almost 10 months ago, were once again put on hold on Sunday, the government delegation announced.

"The talks have been adjourned," a source from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African regional group that has been mediating the talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, told AFP.

Michael Makuei, chief negotiator for the South Sudan government, told AFP the negotiations had been called off by IGAD but would resume on October 16.

"It will give them time to consult on some of the outstanding issues and sticking points in the talks, especially the powers of the prime minister and whether the president will be head of state and government," he said.

The talks, which have been repeatedly interrupted since they began in January, aim to find a lasting solution to the conflict which broke out on December 15 between factions loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former vice-president Riek Machar.

The clashes quickly descended into atrocities along ethnic lines between the two principal tribal groups, Dinka and Nuer, to which the leaders respectively belong.

Previous ceasefire agreements have all been broken, and efforts to form a unity government have so far failed, with the international community accusing the leaders of being insincere in their claims to seek a peaceful resolution.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than 1.8 million have fled since fighting began.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has said that the country's food crisis is the "worst in the world" and aid workers have warned of the risk of famine.