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Kiir can only meet Machar in Juba -Makuei

Author: Garang Abraham | Published: Sunday, August 4, 2019

Dr. Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir during the first TGoNU cabinet meeting in Juba in April, 2016.

The government has insisted that opposition leader Dr Riek Machar can only meet President Salva Kiir in Juba.

The two leaders are expected to discuss the implementation of pending tasks in the revitalized peace agreement.

But a meeting has not happened due to disagreements over its venue.

Machar’s group reportedly wants a meeting to take place in Addis Ababa, while the government insists on a meeting in Juba.

President Kiir has in the past openly invited Machar to return to the country from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

Machar maintains that he can only come to Juba once the security arrangements are implemented as agreed in the peace deal.

These include; assembling, screening, training and reunifying the government and opposition forces under a reformed security sector.

The unified force will include a VIP protection unit that will take charge of the security of senior government officials in the coalition government.

The two last met in April during a religious retreat organized by Pope Francis at the Vatican in Rome.

The Troika, African Union and the region have urged the two leaders to engage in regular meetings to review the progress, build trust and confidence and extend a signal to South Sudanese that the agreement is on track.

Speaking on Friday after the regular Council of Ministers meeting, the government spokesperson, Michael Makuei insists that President Kiir will not meet Machar outside the country.

“All the leaders of other parties are all here and if Riek Machar -at any time -wants to meet the President here, he is free to come,” said Makuei.

He added Machar has the rights to seek protection –if he chooses to come to Juba.

“And if he has any fear of any insecurity, he has a right to be accompanied by any security of the neighbouring countries where he is staying in and he attends the meeting and he returns.”

Last month, Machar wrote to President Kiir to convince IGAD Heads of State to lift his “travel restrictions” to enable him to mobilize support for the agreement.

Two weeks ago he managed to travel to Addis Ababa to meet IGAD officials -including the Special Envoy for South Sudan, Ismael Wais.

During the same time, President Kiir was expected to hold bilateral talks with the Ethiopian Prime Minister in Addis Ababa but he did not travel.

Dr. Machar fled Juba in 2016 after fighting resumed between his forces and government forces in Juba.

He was subsequently exiled to South Africa, where the IGAD placed him under house arrest.

However, with the signing of the revitalized peace agreement last year, he was relocated to Khartoum where he is presently staying.

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