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South Sudan’s rival leaders to meet on Friday in Addis Ababa

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May 7, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudanese president Salva Kiir and former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar are scheduled for face to face talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Friday, where both warring parties have been unsuccessfully negotiating to end the more than four-month-old conflict.

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South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir (centre left), with then vice-president Riek Machar at a rally in Unity state capital Bentiu on 8 April 2010 (Photo: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

President Kiir on Tuesday during the visit to Juba of the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki Moon, assured the top official of the world body of his willingness to travel to Addis for said talks with Machar.

Further, a presidential aide confirmed to Sudan Tribune that the president will travel on Thursday afternoon to Ethiopia.

“He will be going for two reasons. The first reason is to meet with Riek Machar in respond to the invitation by the mediation team which recommended the direct meeting with Riek Machar. This meeting takes place on Friday,” the official said Wednesday.

Rebels have also confirmed their leader was heading to the Ethiopian capital to meet Kiiir for the first time since December last year when the violence erupted between their loyalists and supporters.

“Yes, our leader, Dr. Riek Machar, will soon travel to Ethiopia to meet with Salva Kiir in Addis Ababa,” Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, confirmed to Sudan Tribune on Wednesday, adding that the opposition leader was also expected to hold an initial consultative meeting with the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Haile Mariam Desalegn.

Machar earlier downplayed the face-to-face talks with his former boss, when he on Friday told the visiting US secretary of state John Kerry that the meeting at this stage might be “counter-productive”.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon, however, revealed during his Tuesday visit to the South Sudanese capital that he spoke to Machar who also accepted to meet President Salva Kiir.

IGAD mediators on Tuesday issued a statement saying that the two leaders received an invitation from the Ethiopian prime minister and head of the regional body Hailemariam Dessalegn to meet on Friday.

The mediators “expect that this critical meeting will help end the violence and killings in South Sudan and provide the necessary impetus to the ongoing IGAD-led Mediation Process towards an inclusive and lasting political solution to the crisis,” the statement said.

Analysts say any disagreement between the two top leaders at this early stage of negotiations can weaken the negotiation teams who may face difficulties in reviving the negotiations.

DIFFERING POSITIONS

Differences over what to do in order to resolve the conflict are expected to emerge between the two leaders when they discuss the proposal for forming a power-sharing transitional government.

President Kiir, according to his aides, has expressed his willingness to form with Machar an interim government that would bring back together the two top leaders of the executive before conducting the next elections.

“He (Kiir) wants this conflict to be brought to an end so that a new page is opened, if the formation of the interim administration with Riek and his group can bring peace and stability to the country,” said a top aide in the president’s office on Tuesday.

The South Sudanese leader also assured both leaders of his readiness for direct talks with the rebel leader as a way to resolve the ongoing violence in the new nation.

“He had accepted the formation of transitional government in these meetings and has already authorised the delegation at the negotiation to go ahead with all the discussions, including the interim arrangements,” the presidential aide added.

However, Machar ,who was Kiir’s deputy for eight years, said there was need for the rival parties to agree first on a programme based on a federal constitution that should be implemented by the transitional government before elections.

He has since demanded restructuring of the state, including an overhauling reform in the public sector based on a new agreement and a federal constitution.

“Dr Machar has always made it clear that he wants the two parties, including other South Sudanese stakeholders, to first agree on what to do; hence a programme to implement in order to correct the status quo prior to the formation of the transitional government,” Dak said.

The former vicepresident, he added, differed with Kiir over issues of governance even when they were together as top executives in the presidency, “implying that the matter was not about power-sharing or personal conflict between the two leaders”.

Following a phone conversation with Kerry on Saturday, the rebel leader described to Sudan Tribune as “meaningless” a power-sharing transitional government without a workable programme.

The violence erupted in mid-December 2013 when president Kiir allegedly ordered his the unit commander of the presidential guards, Gen Marial Chinuor, to disarm Nuer soldiers among the guards, sparking the violence.

The presidential guards commander was also blamed for the alleged first massacre of thousands of civilians from the Nuer ethnic group in Juba.

Chinuor along with the rebel commander Gen Peter Gatdet, who was the first to defect in Jonglei state to Machar and blamed for massacres of Dinka civilians, were on Tuesday put under US sanctions for their role in the violence.

Kiir accused his former deputy of alleged coup attempt, but the rebels denied this accusation. Machar counter-accused the president of allegedly fabricating the coup plot story in order to get rid of his main political opponents.

UN has estimated tens of thousands of people have been killed in the violence, while more than a million have been displaced internally and to the neighbouring countries.

(ST)

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  • 8 May 06:31, by George Bol

    Kiir will put Riek to second Vp after Wani.And Nuer will be left homeless===

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    • 8 May 09:58, by chuol

      Kiir will put Riek to second Vp after Wani.And Nuer will be left homeless===says George Bol
      what do you meant muony//
      wish if our sell out brothers could have an acces to the media, they would know that thier staying in your camp is a shame indeed. why most of u are talking NUER NUER AND NUER/// NUER ARE FIGHITNG SELLOUT NUER, JEM, SPLA_N, M23, AND UPDF. WHAT IF THOSE SELLOUT NUERS JOINT THIER US/

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  • 8 May 06:34, by Ayuiu Makuac Lam

    Riek Machar is already in Addis Abba when he lead refugees to Ethiopia during the fall of Nasser. If i were president Kiir, i can appointe him as unity state governor and his wife Angelina should be goal leader in Leer county.

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    • 8 May 07:26, by Bentiu son

      Agaar boy aka Ayuiu Makuac Lam,who told you Dr Riek Machar fled to Ethiopia as refugee after the fall of Nasir? Plz Dinka thugs refrain from manufacturing mere propaganda,fabrication reports, false baseless allegations and unfounded claims at your Dinka owned channel SSTV where you ofter criticize Nuer Society and UNMISS personals like Hilde Johnson.Plz for your info,Dr Machar is in Nasir NOW!

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  • 8 May 06:50, by Bentiu son

    Dear Freedom fighters under Dr Machar,you are voice of voiceless and hope of hopeless.We entire South Sudanese citizens want you to negotiate in good faith with genocidal regime who killed his own citizens base on ethnic dimension.plz,do not compromise/concess whatsoever it may takes for our democratic principles,good governance,freedoms of expression/speech/movements,equality,federalism,

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    • 8 May 07:02, by Bentiu son

      corrupt free South Sudan,fair election,new constitution with Presidential term limit and Interim government without Salva Kiir and his stooge cabinet who sparked the country into current turmoil,chaos,anarchy which made it a failed State on the eyes of globe.We want you to stand firm as to demand immediate withdrawal of all invaders,hired mercenaries UPDF of M7,SRF of Malik Agaar,JEM of Gibril Ibr

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      • 8 May 07:10, by Bentiu son

        ahim whose left their course in Sudan and fight in support of Salva Kiir’s painful regime in South Sudan which favor only Dinka Tribes among 64 ethnic group across the country.It is really contradiction for Gibril Ibrahim who claimed to fight against lack of justice,equality and democratic in Sudan but blindly support injustice and inequality of Salva Kiir in South Sudan whose Dinka tribe dominate

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        • 8 May 07:16, by Bentiu son

          d foreign affairs,cabinets,security organs stakeholders,public and private institutions in the country without feeling shame.We will continue fight till all above mentioned are in place priority for peace to come to it normalcy. Enough is enough Lol.

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    • 8 May 12:15, by mathem jech amer

      Bentiu son
      Don’t worry your negotiators discussion will base on Nuer & Ngundeng idealogy

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  • 8 May 07:41, by Developer

    Our hero Dr.Riek Machar, pledges UN should arrange mean of air transportation for to travel to Ethiopia for that face to face meeting with incompetence president Kiir. Reject any air transportation offers from any African Government, they are not trusted at all. we don’t want you to follow Dr. Garang foot step to die from plane crust.

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  • 8 May 07:53, by Ayuiu Makuac Lam

    Bentiu Son
    what is he doing in Nasser, has he captur or he hide in Village?
    Please don’t ly, he had ran with women and children. To prove me visit the website http/www.chimpreports.com, my friend will never ly to me and public. #Bentiu Son, have you accept, this forecast appointment of Mr. Riek Machar and his wife Angelina? One will be governor of unity state and other goal leader in leer count

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    • 8 May 10:46, by Adodi Jotuwa

      Bentiu Son,
      Don’t worry. The choice is yours; you can either cross to Ethiopia forcefully or peacefully to give peace a chance as you have stated. We welcome SPLA defectors back because they were the lost sheep, misled by Dr. Traitor Riek Machar Teny who always survives politically on shifting allegiance since 1991, 2002 and 2013/2014....

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      • 8 May 10:47, by Adodi Jotuwa

        South Sudanese, Khartoum, regional and international communities know that the fugitive South Sudanese politician who always campaigns on tribal sentiments is Dr. Traitor Riek Machar Teny since 1991. The only word always used by Dr. Traitor Riek against incumbent leaders since 1991 is "step down" or "I will mobilize my tribe to fight for me", of course, not for South Sudanese interest.

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        • 8 May 10:49, by Adodi Jotuwa

          Why don’t you tell the whole world clearly that it’s only Nuer, who claim to be warriors in the whole of South Sudan are the only ones fighting the government forces that comprised of many tribes? What is the prospect of winning that tribal-led war ostensibly externalized to gain world attention? The current government is not stupid to be lured into fighting senseless war orchestrated by one tribe

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          • 8 May 11:07, by Adodi Jotuwa

            Dr. Traitor Riek Machar did not have a workable (federal)program before since 1991, even after signing his KPA of 1997 with Khartoum. We cannot copy imported federal system of USA which is already matured over 238 years old and paste it in South Sudan as if we cannot grow our own federal and democratic system domestically. The white army needs books, not guns to fight for Riek’s personal interest.

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  • 8 May 11:40, by chuol

    RSS“The Constitution must be changed, Kiir step-down, and then, interim period and eventually election will take place. Until that become an agreement, meeting face-to -face will not yield any fruitful result. I do not simply trust Salva Kiir who has deceived the nation about a coup just to massacre Nuer in order to remain President.” Nyagile Thot Keat of Omaha, Nebraska said.

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  • 8 May 20:51, by Kim Deng

    If Dr. Riek accepts to be in the same position within the Dinka Kingdom, will these roaring Lions/Tigers (Gatdet, Gatwech, Tanginye...yield to his submission?
    http://upperniletimes.net/details.php?id=753

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