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S. Sudan President in South Africa

FILE - South Sudan's President Salva Kiir.
FILE - South Sudan's President Salva Kiir.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir is in South Africa for talks on the peace agreement aimed at ending his country's 22-month civil war.

According to a spokesman, Kiir met Sunday with South African President Jacob Zuma and briefed him about efforts to implement the agreement he signed in August with rebel leader and former vice president Riek Machar.

The spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, says Kiir urged Zuma to convince rebels to sign a security arrangement deal that is part of the process of the peace agreement.
"The government of South Sudan has already initialed [it]; the rebels are still intransigent," says Ateny.

He says as a supporter of South Sudan's peace process, South Africa could play a key role in efforts to unite factions of the opposition in a bid to restore peace and security in the East African country.

"The role of Zuma would be very crucial in trying to pressure the SPLM-IO in order to initial the security agreement," Ateny says.

The spokesman says the two leaders also talked about the voluntary withdrawal of Ugandan soldiers from South Sudan, which Ateny calls demonstration that President Kiir's government is committed to implementation of the agreement.

Ugandan forces supporting the government began pulling out of South Sudan on October 12th.
The peace accord is aimed at ending a conflict which has left tens of thousands dead and an estimated two million people displaced from their homes.

The agreement was signed in August in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African regional bloc.

Ateny also denied local reports suggesting that President Kiir is receiving medical treatment in South Africa and that the official state visit is to cover up the undisclosed ailment.

"First of all why should President Salva Kiir hide if he is feeling sick? He is a human being and if he is feeling sick he will go to the hospital," the spokesman says. "The truth of the matter is that he is not sick [but] people want him to be sick. The people who want him to be sick who are witch hunters. He went to South Africa for a state visit and not to go and see a doctor. The president has a medical team that is qualified and they are here in South Sudan."

Kiir is due to return from his two-day visit to South Africa on Monday.