August 3, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s foreign minister, Ali Karti, has announced that South Sudan’s former vice-president turned rebel leader, Riek Machar, will arrive in Khartoum soon, adding that his visit comes in the framework of regional efforts to restore peace in the neighbouring country.
- South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir (L), and rebel leader Riek Machar (R) shake hands and pray before signing a ceasefire agreement aimed at ending conflict in the country in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 9 May 2014 (Photo: AP/Elias Asmare)
Machar resides currently in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, the venue of the peace talks since several months. He was received in Nairobi, Djibouti, and Pretoria, respectively, where he held talks with the leaders of those countries in which dismissed accusations that he attempted to overthrow president Salva Kiir in December last year.
The former vice-president also called on the regional leaders to support his plan for democratic political reforms.
The government in Juba which signed a cessation of hostilities agreement since 23 January observes with scepticism the moves of the rebel leader. Officials at different times openly or implicitly accused Khartoum of harbouring or supporting the rebels.
Speaking to the press after his return from Mauritania on Sunday, Karti told reporters that Machar will meet president Omer al-Bashir and government officials to discuss the peace process.
The Sudanese foreign minister denied accusations that his government supported either side in the conflict.
"Sudan has no interest in the continuation of the war in the South (Sudan) and it does not support one party against the other," Karti said adding, "our interest that both sides sign a peace agreement, and we hope it would be soon."
Karti did not give the date of the visit but unconfirmed reports say he may arrive in Khartoum on Tuesday.
Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak when contacted by phone on Sunday said his boss would visit Khartoum in the next few days.
“Yes, Dr. Machar will visit Khartoum in the next few days. We are making final touches on the arrangements for his visit,” Dak told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
IGAD STATES TO RECEIVE MACHAR
Karti further explained that IGAD countries agreed to receive Machar in their respective countries to listen to his positions and to encourage him to reach a peaceful settlement to the almost eight-month-long conflict.
He added that Machar’s regional tour has been approved by IGAD leaders, including president Salva Kiir.
Karti further pointed out that the deadly conflict in the new southern neighbour, which broke away from Sudan in July 2011, has affected Sudanese common interests.
"The common interests between Sudan and South Sudan in the economic areas and others are affected by this conflict," he further said.
Since last May, Machar had to visit Khartoum but the visit was delayed as president Bashir undergone a knee surgery.
In a radio talk show during the last week of July, Karti said his government preferred to keep a low profile in the ongoing efforts to end the South Sudanese crisis to avoid any accusations that Khartoum tries to take advantage of the situation and impose a solution serving its interests.