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Machar in Khartoum for two-week talks with Kiir on South Sudan peace

Riek Machar (L) received by the Sudanese FM Dirdeiry at Khartoum airport on 24 June 23017 (Photo SUNA)
June 24, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar Sunday arrived in the Sudanese capital where he is expected to meet for the second time with President Salva Kiir on Monday.

During their meeting in Addis Ababa on 20 June, the two leaders failed to agree on the outstanding issues, also President Kiir reiterated his rejection to work with Machar personally as First Vice President, a position that poisoned the talks environment.

Khartoum said the face to face meeting under the auspices of President Omer al-Bashir will be attended also by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who is expected to work with the Sudanese president to put pressure on the two parties to make the needed concessions.

Foreign Minister Dirdeiry Mohamad Ahmed who received Machar at the airport said the negotiations include all the South Sudanese, according to the extraordinary summit of the IGAD held in Addis Ababa last week.

The Sudanese top diplomat said, in a press conference Sunday, that the negotiating round which begins Monday, will last for two weeks and will focus on resolving outstanding issues between the parties, especially on issues of governance and security arrangements.

On the power-sharing, the meeting will discuss three outstanding issues: the percentage of each party in the composition of the cabinet, the ratios of every party in the National Legislative Assembly and the state governments.

On the security arrangements, the parties disagree on four key areas including determination of demilitarized areas; modalities and exemption from cantonment; the timeframe for the unification of forces, and the number of parties’ representatives in the Joint Transitional Security Committee.

Dirdeiry added that the meeting will be at two levels, the first between Salva Kiir and Machar at the presidential palace and will be attended by President Museveni and the second will be between the delegations of the parties.

During the two-week period of the talks, President Kiir can return to Juba or travel to any destination according to his agenda and presidential duties, he said.

"But Machar will remain in Khartoum for the duration of the negotiations. During the two-week period or at the end of the talks before the specified period, Machar can leave for any other capital, provided it is not adjacent to South Sudan," he stressed.

The meeting of the IGAD head of states and governments decided that "Machar Teny be free to leave the Republic of South Africa to any country of his choice except the IGAD region; and that he shall be allowed to enter into and exit from Sudan and Kenya for the duration of the peace process".

Machar final status will be decided at the upcoming Ordinary Summit of the IGAD Assembly.

The Sudanese foreign minister said he would fly to Nairobi within two weeks to brief President Uhuru Kenyatta on the outcome of Khartoum meeting.

The IGAD leaders on Thursday decided that President Uhuru Kenyatta will facilitate a third round of face-to-face discussions between President Kiir and Machar in Nairobi after the end of Khartoum talks.

Kenyatta will brief the upcoming meeting of the IGAD heads of state and government about the outcome and way forward.

The IGAD leaders directed that the South Sudan special envoy finalize the IGAD bridging proposal at the sideline of the 33rd African Union Summit to be held in Nouakchott, Mauritania on 1 and 2 July.