News / Africa

Regional Heads of State to Meet in Ethiopia

FILE - South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) exchange signed peace agreement documents in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 9, 2014.
FILE - South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) exchange signed peace agreement documents in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 9, 2014.
Peter Clottey
Heads of state and government from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries plan to meet in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa on Tuesday, according to Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan’s foreign minister.

IGAD officials say the focus will be on ways of improving peace and security in the six-country East African bloc devoted to boosting political and economic cooperation.  Participants will also strive to come up with solutions for resolving the conflict in South Sudan as well as security threats posed by the Somali-based Islamist insurgent group, al-Shabab.

Marial said South Sudan President Salva Kiir and former vice president and rebel leader Riek Machar will meet on Tuesday, as part of IGAD-mediated peace talks.

Their meeting comes a month after both Kiir and Machar signed a deal in Ethiopia to recommit to a cessation of hostilities agreement as negotiations continue between the two sides.

“This was a requirement by the IGAD mediators that the president will be able to meet the rebel leader to see how far they have honored the cessation of hostilities,” Marial said. “This is the fulfillment of the commitment of President Salva Kiir Mayardit to see that the peace process moves ahead.”

Both the government and the rebels have recently traded accusations of undermining the cessation of hostilities agreement. But, Marial says the rebels are to blame for attacking government positions.

“Unfortunately, the rebels’ side had actually violated the cessation of hostilities and they have been attacking left and right all the positions of the SPLA [Sudan People’s Liberation Army], especially in Unity State,” said Marial.

The conflict has left hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes.

Marial says the administration in Juba is committed to the peace talks, but called on regional leaders to pressure the rebels to become more serious about the negotiations.

Officials of South Sudan’s government recently expressed displeasure with neighboring Kenya and Sudan over their relationship with the rebels. Kenya was criticized for according preferential treatment to Machar.  Sudan was accused of undermining the Juba government’s legitimacy when it allowed a rebel delegation to hold a news conference in Khartoum over the weekend.

Marial rejected media reports of the criticism as mere media speculation. He says the government has confidence in Nairobi’s efforts to help resolve the conflict and says bilateral relations between South Sudan and Sudan are being continuously strengthened.

“South Sudan has the confidence of the ability of President Uhuru [Kenyatta] and his government to continue doing the best they can in order to bring peace to the republic of South Sudan,” said Marial. “For Sudan, our relations have been improving every day there is no question about that. Our message is that… a democratically-elected government cannot be equated with a rebel movement that is our concern.”                                                     
Clottey intv with Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan foreign minister
Clottey intv with Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan foreign ministeri
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Comment Sorting
by: Jeffrey Ngueny Deng from: Akobo,South Sudan
June 10, 2014 4:34 AM
The position of rebels is to peace in south sudan as the government side is for battle which they will never win.
Those of Marial,Makuei,Aguer are confusing the situation with proppogandas,therefore you the IGAD must find way to make the government side understood what peace mean to south sudan
Army are abandoning their position becuase administration is refusing to come to peace brokered in Adis Ababa

by: Lisa from: Tx
June 09, 2014 8:50 PM
Mr Benjamin, i thought that your more educated politically. Yes both kiir's army and riek 's army made mistakes, but you did forget when riek said its not only his army fighting the splm. And he can not control the army who defected from spla and they are fighting.
What happen in juba, Mr Benjamin you and other decided not to use democratic and political means to stop, what have become civil war under your watch, now heading to peace talk, you started by beleming riek of wrong doing, instead of calling for peace or even by asking kiir to respect the people who elected him to office, facts kiir was appointed because we lost John. Yet you better believe it, kiir is military man, not political but he is surounded by people like you who don't care about peace apart from self interest, don't belem riek because you contrubuted to the killing of the innocent, its time that so-called educated to support peace and show respect to human life. Benjamin your no different from kiir, unless if you talk real peace. And accept your mistakes all people working in south Sudan government. Ask kiir to call for election get the voice of people again so that the killing stop.

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