August 10, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – A rebel official said the leader of the opposition faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-In-Opposition), Riek Machar, has arrived in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on Sunday.
- 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)
Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that the South Sudanese former vice-president will meet the Sudanese top leadership and discuss the ongoing peace process in Addis Ababa.
“SPLM chairman Dr. Riek Machar Teny has arrived in Khartoum this morning. The IGAD-facilitated visit is in the interests of the peace process to end the crisis in South Sudan,” Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak said on Sunday.
“He will meet president Omer Hassan al-Bashir and other officials of the Sudanese government,” he said.
Sudan’s foreign minister, Ali Karti, last week announced that the South Sudanese former vice-president would be in Khartoum soon, adding that his visit comes in the framework of regional efforts to bring peace in the southern neighbouring country which broke away from Sudan in July 2011.
Machar who resides in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, the venue of the peace talks for several months was also received in Nairobi, Djibouti, and Pretoria, respectively.
During his visits to the regional countries the rebel leader held talks with the leaders of those countries in which he dismissed accusations that he attempted to overthrow president Salva Kiir in mid December last year and instead accused him of orchestrating the violence in order to get rid of political reformists from the ruling party (SPLM).
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 allegedly harbouring or supporting the rebels.
The Sudanese foreign minister, Karti, 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 [is] that both sides sign a peace agreement, and we hope it would be soon."
He 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 seven month old conflict.
The crisis sparked off on 15 December when internal conflict between politicians in the ruling party turned violent.
Tens of thousands have been killed and at least 1.5 million others displaced according to estimates by the United Nations.
The peace talks between the rival parties in Addis Ababa is seen as the only hope to restore stability in the new country.