South Sudan Rebel Leader Arrives in Addis Ababa on June 20. Official Says

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South Sudan opposition leader Riek Machar is expected in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa Wednesday for the planned face-to-face meeting with President Salva Kiir, his party top official said.

Mabior Garang, the spokesperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition [SPLM-IO] confirmed that the rebel leader will arrive on June 20 from his detention in South Africa.

“We are scheduled to have a face-to-face meeting on June 21 with President Salva Kiir as per the invitation from Ethiopian Prime Minister, and chairman of IGAD. So, this is what we know and what we have scheduled,” he said, dismissing reports that the talks are unlikely.

South Sudan Information Minister Micheal Makuei said last week that they would prefer the meeting to be hosted by countries outside the East African region because member states seeking to mediate the talks have vested interest.

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He said they preferred South Africa.

Makuei said there were “competing interests” among IGAD member states Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia, all of which have offered to host a Kiir-Machar meeting. “It seems that there is some sort of undeclared competition,” he said.

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The meeting which Garang said hoped will give way for lasting peace in the country will be the first one since the July 2016 fighting in Juba which ripped apart the August 2015 peace deal.

“The two principles are the final authorities … so the deadlock between the two warring parties will be resolved,”  Garang said.

South Sudan’s conflict began in 2013 as a power struggle between Kiir and Machar. The civil war has displaced more than 4 million South Sudanese.

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