South Sudan's Kiir, rebel leader Machar to meet again next week

Friday June 22 2018

South Sudan President Salva Kiir (right) and his then first vice president Riek Machar in Juba in 2016 before fresh fighting erupted forcing Dr Machar to flee the country. The two leaders met in Ethiopia on June 20, 2018 after nearly two years. PHOTO | AFP


Sudan’s foreign minister said on Friday that a new round of talks between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar would take place next week in the Sudanese capital.

The minister’s statement came after Kiir and Machar met in the Ethiopian capital this week, the first time the two men had met in nearly two years when a peace deal collapsed spectacularly.

The last meeting between Kiir and Machar immediately preceded the outbreak of deadly fighting in the South Sudanese capital Juba in July 2016.

Defeated, Machar fled into exile in South Africa where he was placed under de-facto house arrest.

The two men are central to the civil war in the world's youngest country, which has killed tens of thousands and driven a third of the country's 12 million people from their homes.

Kiir's December 2013 accusation that Machar was plotting a coup signalled the start of the war.


Volatile relationship

A 2015 agreement eventually brought Machar back to Juba, only for deadly violence to break out soon after.

"Thousands of South Sudanese have been killed and hundreds of thousands more have been displaced from their homes," African Union (AU) chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said at the Igad summit's opening.

"All eyes are focused on your will to make the dream of peace in South Sudan possible."

Analysts warn that Kiir and Machar's notoriously volatile relationship and entrenched positions casts doubt on the likelihood of success of any reconciliation between them.

It is also unclear whether either man has the ability to halt a war that has metastasised, splintered and spread over the past four years.

The meeting in Addis Ababa comes against a background of growing international frustration.

In May, the UN Security Council gave the two warring sides a month to reach a peace deal or face sanctions.

—Additional reporting by AFP.