Uhuru holds talks with South Sudan's Riek Machar

Thursday May 29 2014

Riek Machar, South Sudanese rebel leader gives a press conference on May 12, 2014 in Addis Ababa. AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker

Riek Machar, South Sudanese rebel leader gives a press conference on May 12, 2014 in Addis Ababa. AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker 

By Isaac Ongiri

South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar, who is in Kenya, Wednesday night held a lengthy meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The meeting at State House which began after 8pm discussed the Sudanese conflict which has so far claimed hundreds of lives and destruction of property in Africa’s youngest State.

Proposals have also been made for another one on one meeting between Dr Machar and the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.

Dr Machar who spoke to the Nation through his spokesman -James Gatdet Dak said they are opposed to the proposal to form an interim government before a clear agreement is reached.

“We want the two groups to reach an agreement so that all issues that led to this conflict are adequately addressed-the formation of an interim government in Juba should be a product of the negotiations,” Mr Dak said.

There are plans to convene a special Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) conference to discuss the murderous conflict in the South Sudan.

Organisers of the event have proposed Kenya as the venue for the meeting with others proposing Addis Ababa but no agreement been made.

The Igad meeting expected to bring together all the member States would be held in the first week of June.

Early this month, President Kiir and Dr Machar struck a deal that caused a brief ceasefire before fighting resumed after the President claimed he had been coerced into signing the Addis Ababa deal after Ethiopian Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn threatened to arrest them.

Negotiators have been holding talks in Ethiopia but no conclusion has been arrived at on how to end the six months old conflict that has brought the Sudanese economy to a halt.

Previous negotiations led to the release of 11 political prisoners who are granted asylum in Kenya by President Kenyatta.

On Thursday, State House spokesman declined to discuss the details of the closed door meeting between the Sudanese leader and the Kenyan President.

“Let me confirm well with the ministry of Foreign Affairs-we will talk later,” said Mr Manoah Esipisu who is the Kenya presidential spokesman.

Dr Machar who arrived in Nairobi on Tuesday from Ethiopia has also scheduled a number of meetings with other regional leaders.

He will fly straight to Khartoum for a meeting with Sudanese leader Omar Al Bashir after ending his tour of Kenya to discuss the conflict.

His spokesman however ruled out a possibility of the rebel leader visiting Kampala as the group views Uganda as partisan in the whole process.

“We have asked Uganda to withdraw their troops from South Sudan. Maybe when they do that we shall begin to view them differently,” Mr Dak stated.