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Sumbeiywo optimistic that President Kiir and Machar will agree to dialogue to end fighting in S-Sudan

AFRICA
By STANDARD TEAM | December 31st 2013

By STANDARD TEAM

The region’s special envoy to South Sudan Lazaro Sumbeiywo yesterday oozed optimism that President Salva Kiir and estranged former Vice President Riek Machar will hold their face-to-face meeting to end the fighting.

In a dispatch through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sumbeiywo, the special envoy for the Intergovernmental Authority and Development, said he had spoken to President Kiir and Machar with a view to ensuring a ceasefire.

He said the two had agreed to send their respective teams to begin the talks.

“The talks will focus on a monitored ceasefire followed by further dialogue aimed at solving the underlying political problems that led to the emergence of the present confrontation,” said Sumbeiywo.

 The two warring camps agreed to talks on the last day of a four-day IGAD deadline. They came to the table just a day after Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni had warned that if Machar failed to show up for the talks, he’d be disciplined.

“It is only the coming commencement of dialogue and negotiations that will ensure that lasting solutions for the benefit of all the people of South Sudan are found,” read the brief from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“(Sumbeiywo) urges all parties in local areas still engaged in combat to understand that there will be no political or other gains from such action in regard to the region’s posture on the question of the stability and security of South Sudan.”

The BBC reported that Machar’s delegation will be led by Rebecca Garang, the widow of South Sudan’s leader John Garang’.

The Ethiopian government said Machar had agreed to dialogue and his representatives were due to arrive in Addis Ababa later on Tuesday. Machar told the BBC he was not ready to accept the ceasefire demanded by neighboring states.

"We are going there," South Sudan Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told Reuters, referring to Ethiopia. He added there was no chance of President Salva Kiir agreeing to share power with Machar in talks.

The international community was wary that the fighting might not abate, more so, after Machar’s forces took control of Bor on Tuesday. The countries including Kenya, Uganda, US, UK, Somalia evacuated their citizens.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance reported that the ongoing violence in South Sudan has displaced at least 180,000, including up to 75,000 people sheltering in UN peacekeeping bases.

“Around 106,000 people have been reached with some kind of assistance to date, inside and outside UN bases. Assistance to displaced communities includes food, healthcare, vaccinations, clean water and sanitation and protection services,” reads OCHA’s brief dated December 29.

IGAD had asked Kiir to consider releasing the political detainees and to create a “conducive environment”. The communique issued on December 27 was couched in words that gave Kiir leverage to go around the push for a release of detainees, because it just asked him to “review the status of the detainees in recognition of their role in accordance with the laws of the Republic of South Sudan”.

-Reports by Alphonce Shiundu, Reuters, BBC

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