South Sudan

EXCLUSIVE: Machar Meets Ethiopian PM

Machar in Addis Ababa recently for the peace talks

The South Sudan rebel movement, patient symptoms SPLA-IO leader Dr. Riek Machar has met with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is also the host and chairman of the regional body IGAD that is mediating the youngest nation’s peace talks.

The meeting ahead of the peace talk’s resumption this mid-April was held at the Ethiopian National Palace in capital Addis Ababa on Wednesday where Hailemariam personally briefed the rebel leader on the upcoming developments.

Sources in Machar’s camp in Addis Ababa, who only refer to him as Commander-in-Chief, said there are ready for the dialogue’s reopening after it flatly flopped on March 6 when the African Union and IGAD’s Heads of State and Government summit failed to make the two conflicting parties sign the final peace agreement which is expected to usher in a government of national unity.

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“The Commander-in-Chief as usual is so interested in a peaceful resolution and an end of suffering for our own people that he honoured the invitation from IGAD and met with H.E Hailemariam at his Palace,” a source who asked not to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said on Easter Sunday.

A high level delegation was supposed to fly to Juba to meet the SPLA leadership under President Salva Kiir with the view of briefing him on the new arrangements for the negotiations dubbed ‘IGAD Plus’.

The new round of talks will bring together world powers and other African countries that have been playing an observatory role to direct mediation in the talks that entered the second year in December 2014.

Though contested by the Juba regime, the Troika block consisting United States, United Kingdom and Norway – which are also the biggest humanitarian funders of South Sudan, have officially joined the IGAD Plus.

Other countries are from the BRICKS block – China, Russia and South Africa.

All IGAD member countries which were not directly involved in the talks can now officially join the negotiations.

The IGAD Plus, which will see United Nations recognised as a member, is expected to exert ample pressure on President Kiir and Dr. Machar to finally accept the final deal which they have been failing to sign.

It is now seen as the last resolution to the South Sudan conflict that broke out in late 2013 and has claimed an estimated 20,000 lives, driven about two million people out of their homes internally and over half a million to neighbouring countries.


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