Ramaphosa welcomes inclusion of S Sudanese leader in IGAD talks

Remigio Civitarese
Giugno 23, 2018

South Sudan President Salva Kiir will meet his rival Riek Machar in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, as part of talks to try and negotiate an end to a five-year-old civil war, Ethiopia's foreign ministry said.

The ethnically-charged conflict has killed tens of thousands of people in the world's youngest country and repeatedly brought large parts of its population to the brink of starvation. A series of ceasefires and pacts have failed.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in South Sudan's civil war which broke out in December 2013 when troops loyal to Machar, a former vice president, launched a rebellion against the government led by President Kiir.

Machar fled South Sudan after new fighting erupted in the capital in July 2016, ending a brief attempt at peace in which Machar returned to his role as Kiir's deputy.

An Ethiopian government official also confirmed Mr Machar's arrival and said he would meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed before his talks with Mr Kiir.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed, while inviting the two rival leaders for peace talks in Ethiopia, has also urged them to contribute their nearly efforts to end the suffering, migration as well as death of South Sudanese people, according to the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Abiy "will call upon the two leaders to narrow their gap and work for the pacification of South Sudan and relieve the burden of death and uprooting of South Sudanese people", Meles Alem, Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman, said.

Dr Machar touched down at the Bole International Airport in what could be the latest sign yet that the planned meeting with his nemesis Salva Kiir is in the offing.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta will on Thursday join other regional leaders at the peace talks, a presidential statement said.

A landlocked state with a large ethnic mix, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after a long and brutal war.

The renewed violence spread across the country, spawning numerous new armed opposition groups and further complicating peace efforts.

The event was hailed around the world and by celebrity supporters such as George Clooney. The UN Security Council in May gave the two warring sides a month to reach a peace deal or face sanctions.

Washington was a critical backer of South Sudan during its separation from Sudan, and remains Juba's biggest aid donor.

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