By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
May 8, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA/JUBA) – South Sudan rebel leader, Riek Machar arrived Thursday evening in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa for Friday’s face-to-face talks with president Salva Kiir.
- United States special envoy to Sudans Donald Booth (not shown) together with IGAD’s mediators Ethiopian former foreign minister Seyoum Mesfin (L), Sudanese General Mohammed Ahmed Moustafa El Dabi (R) at an undisclosed location in South Sudan to meet former VP Riek Machar January 11, 2014 (Photo: Handout by Machar negotiators)
Speaking to Sudan Tribune from Bole international airport, spokesperson of the SPLM/SPLA in opposition, Mabior Garang confirmed that Machar arrived at about 8pm (local time).
The two rival leaders will hold direct talks on Friday, their first meeting since fighting in South Sudan broke out in mid-December last year between the two warring faction.
The agenda of the meeting remains unclear. However, Ethiopia government sources said immediate end of the violence, forming a transitional government and power sharing will be center of discussions.
Also, multiple government officials, including foreign diplomats in Juba claimed the talks would include an outline for an inclusive transitional government in the country
The South Sudanese president was due to travel to the Ethiopian capital on Friday.
Ethiopia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Ambassador Dina Mufti later told Sudan Tribune that president Kiir would arrive for direct talks in Addis Ababa on Friday.
Kiir and Machar agreed to meet after a visit by the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry to Juba last week. Kerry also had a telephone conversation with Machar.
Both leaders also received an official invitation from the Ethiopian prime minister and IGAD chairperson Hailemariam Desalegn. The two rival leaders are expected to hold consultation meetings with Desalegn, prior to the direct talks.
The conflict in the world’s newest nation erupted on December 15 when President Kiir accused Machar of staging a coup, an accusation the latter denies.
Violence has left tens of thousands of people killed and forced more than 1.3 million to flee their homes.
Both sides are being accused of committing war crimes and atrocities in many parts of the country. The United Nations on Wednesday said crimes against humanity were likely committed by the two rivals.
The rebel and government delegations have been under IGAD-led negotiations since January. However, the two sides have so far failed to make a major breakthrough to end the violence.