Home | News    Sunday 17 June 2018 (Date first published: 1 B.C.).

Juba calls to hold Kiir-Machar meeting outside IGAD countries

June 16, 2018 (JUBA) - The South Sudanese government said it wants the face-to-face meeting between President Salva Kiir and his main rival Riek Machar to be outside the IGAD countries, saying there a sort of competition among the block’s countries to organize it.

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South Sudan President Salva Kiir (C) poses for a picture after the government swearing in with his first deputy Riek Machar (R) and second deputy James Wani on 29 April 2016 (Photo Moses Lomayat)

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth pointed to the multiple initiatives by Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia to host a meeting between Kiir and Machar saying there are "competing interests" between the IGAD countries.

"It seems that there is some sort of undeclared competition," said Lueth before to add "the best thing is to hold it in a neutral ground so that none of these three takes it for anything other than a neutral place".

Sudan on 5 June dispatched its foreign minister to Juba propose to host the Kiir-Machar meeting decided by the IGAD Council of Ministers on 31 May. Also, Kenya’s former prime minister met Raila Odinga with Machar in Pretoria on 8 June and raised the possibility of coordinating the meeting.

Following what, Ethiopia which is the IGAD chair extended on 13 June an invitation for the face to face meeting to President Kiir and the SPLM-IO leader on 20 June.

The government spokesperson said they do not contest the meeting or its patronage by the IGAD but they prefer to see it held in a country outside the East African block countries.

He further added that South African, for example, can be a neutral territory for this crucial meeting.

Khartoum which pledged to provide the needed technical assistance for the resumption of oil production in the Unity region dispatched its foreign minister to Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Kampala to coordinate the meeting with the three governments.

As result of these diplomatic moves, the is a lot of confusion about the place where the meeting will be held. Also, it is not clear if Addis Ababa will convene an encounter and Khartoum another one.

The IGAD Council of Ministers indicated that the face to face must take place before the African Union Summit in Mauritania on 1-2 July.