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IGAD wants face-to-face meeting between Kiir and Machar

President Salva Kiir greets First Vice President Riek Machar before to start a meeting at the South Sudanese presidency in Juba on 3 June 2016 (Photo Moses Lomayat)

May 31, 2018 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has proposed a meeting between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar takes place before the 31st summit of the African Union on 1 and 2 July in Nouakchott, Mauritania.

The IGAD Council of Ministers, in a communiqué issued following its extraordinary summit in Addis Ababa on Thursday, said a final decision be made on the effective participation of the armed opposition leader on the peace process.

It will be the first time the two rival South Sudanese leaders will be meeting face-to-face since the July 2016 clashes in the capital, Juba.

The second round of the IGAD-led High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) ended last week without any deal after the warring parties rejected a proposed power-sharing deal developed by regional bloc and IGAD is yet to announce the next date for the negotiations.

Meanwhile, foreign ministers from the regional bloc have directed mediators to develop a full revitalized text of the 2015 peace agreement, which it said should be endorsed by the IGAD Council of Ministers and submitted to the summit for the final approval.

The IGAD Council of Ministers, in the communiqué, also proposed that punitive measures be taken against violators of the ceasefire deal for approval of its Assembly of Heads of State and Government.

It further decided to submit its request to the IGAD Assembly to delegate the Council to decide on actions to be taken against violators of the ceasefire deal on the assembly’s behalf.

The IGAD Council of Ministers, however, said it will work closely with the IGAD-Plus nations to realize the objectives of the HLRF process.

South Sudan plunged into war in December 2013, barely two years after independence from Sudan, after a disagreement between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar deteriorated into a military confrontation.

Tens of thousands have been killed by the fighting between troops loyal to Kiir and forces loyal to Machar. The conflict has also left a quarter of the country’s population of 12 million either internally displaced or as refugees in neighbouring countries