May 27, 2014 (NAIROBI) – The leader of South Sudan’s armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Riek Machar, is expected in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Tuesday, his spokesperson confirmed.
- Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta with the seven former SPLM detainees and Rebecca Garang in Nairobi on 12 February 2014 (Photo: Office of the Kenyan President)
“Yes, our chairman, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, begins his official visits to some of the regional countries with his first leg in the Republic of Kenya on Tuesday,” Machar’s spokesman James Gatdet Dak told Sudan Tribune on Monday.
He said an advance team led by Machar’s deputy, Alfred Ladu Gore, has already arrived in Nairobi to arrange for the arrival of the opposition’s top leader.
Dak said the leadership of the SPLM/A-in-Opposition is expected to meet with the top leaders of the Kenyan government and discuss “a wide range of issues” pertaining to the peace process in order to end the five-month old violent crisis in the new nation.
Earlier, the rebel leader’s spokesperson said Machar will also use the opportunity for the first face to face interactions with the regional leaders since December last year to provide them with highlights about facts of the genesis of the current crisis as well as reassure them on the commitment by the opposition group to reach a political settlement with the Juba regime in order to end the crisis.
Kenya is a member of the regional body, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which is mediating the ongoing peace talks between the government of South Sudan and the armed opposition movement.
Among the other regional countries on the list of Machar’s visit include Sudan, another IGAD member country from which South Sudan broke away in July 2011.
Violence erupted in mid-December last year when president Salva Kiir, a Dinka by tribe, allegedly ordered the commander of presidential guards to disarm Machar’s Nuer soldiers within the unit.
The crisis came at a time when there were heated debates within the SPLM leadership on the future of the party and the country in which senior party officials allied to Kiir’s arch rival, Machar accused the president of allegedly developing “dictatorial tendencies” by resisting political reforms.
The political crisis turned into ethnic violence as troops loyal to president Kiir were accused of turning against civilians from the Nuer ethnic group in the capital, Juba, massacring thousands of them. The accusations prompted Nuer army generals to defect in Jonglei state’s capital, Bor, and Unity state’s Bentiu, in protest of the killings.
Tens of thousands are believed to have died while over a million more displaced into the neighbouring countries, according to the United Nations.
A shaky peace talk has been on going in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to try and resolve the crisis.