May 28, 2014 (NAIROBI) – South Sudan’s former vice president turned rebel leader, Riek Machar, on Tuesday arrived in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi to meet with the leaders of the neighbouring countries on the peace process with president Salva Kiir’s government.
- South Sudan’s rebel leader, Riek Machar, smiles as he meets his friends at the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa on 9 May 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)
Upon his arrival in the Kenyan capital, Machar held a meeting with the Kenyan envoy to the Addis Ababa peace talks, Gen Lazarus Symboyo.
“Upon his arrival in Nairobi Dr. Machar met with the Kenyan envoy to the IGAD-sponsored peace talks, Gen Lazarus Symboyo, in which they discussed the agenda for the expected meeting between him and president Uhuru Kenyatta,” Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
Dak said the visit which may last for a few days came in response to the invitation extended to the rebel leader Machar by the Kenyan president.
He said Machar also met with his officials based in Nairobi and briefed them on the roadmap agreement he signed with president Kiir and the purpose of his Kenyan visit.
The rebel leader’s spokesperson added that Machar’s meeting with the Kenyan top leaders “may take place any time soon.”
After his visit to Nairobi, Machar is expected to fly to Khartoum for talks with Sudanese officials on the stalled peace process in Addis Ababa.
KARTI MINIMISES MACHAR’S VISIT
In Khartoum the foreign minister Ali Karti met with the South Sudanese ambassador Mayan Dut Waal who discussed with him among others the expected visit of the rebel leader Riek Machar.
Diplomatic sources told Sudan Tribune that the South Sudanese ambassador expressed the concern of his government about the visit but Karti said that the foreign ministry is not aware of his coming to Khartoum.
“The minister told him that this visit may come within the context of IGAD mediation team”, the source said.
The three-member mediation team includes a Sudanese envoy, Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, who was appointed by the Sudanese presidency.
Karti further reiterated Khartoum’s support to the regional efforts to resolve the conflict and the willingness of his government to back a peaceful solution for the five-month conflict in South Sudan.
In a statement published by the official news agency, the foreign ministry said the meeting discussed the situation of the South Sudanese refugees in Sudan and the training of Southerners diplomat in Khartoum, as it was agreed in the past between the two countries.
South Sudanese presidency spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny, stated on Monday that Machar visit to Khartoum would not affect diplomatic ties between the two nations if the intention is to solicit support aimed at ending ongoing conflict in the country in a way that reflects neutrality.
Different South Sudanese government officials accused Khartoum of harbouring rebel fighters near the joint border and providing weapons and ammunition to the SPLM-In- Opposition, a matter that Khartoum and Machar strongly denied.
Sudanese government which accuses Juba of using of Darfurian rebels in its war against Machar’s group says it has no interest to have a destabilised South Sudan.
Also, observers point to the need of Sudanese government to oil transit fees estimated at around $2 billion a year.