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South Sudan's Kiir, Machar in Entebbe for peace talks

By Taddeo Bwambale

Added 7th November 2019 11:34 AM

The meeting will be the third face-to-face meeting between the two principals since they signed a new peace agreement in September 2018

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President Salva Kiir shakes hands with Riek Machar while President Yoweri Museveni looks on following talks at State House, Entebbe in July 2018. File Photo

The meeting will be the third face-to-face meeting between the two principals since they signed a new peace agreement in September 2018

South Sudan's President, Salva Kiir and his political rival, Riek Machar are meeting in Kampala today for talks aimed at resolving key differences.

The two are meeting in the presence of President Yoweri Museveni and the head of the Sudan Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah El-Burhan, at State House in Entebbe.

Museveni and Abdel Fattah are both co-guarantors of a 2018 peace deal signed by Kiir and Machar to resolve political differences that resulted in a civil war that has ravaged the country.

The meeting is to discuss outstanding issues in the extended pre-transitional period which expires next Tuesday. Kiir and Machar are required to have agreed on a unity government by that time.

Thursday’s meeting will be the third face-to-face meeting between the two principals since they signed a new peace agreement in September 2018.

The Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) confirmed that its leader Machar will travel to Kampala for the meeting.

The two principals, under pressure from international and regional powers, have until November 12 to form a unity government, in line with the latest peace accord.

A key provision of the peace deal was the integration of former rebels in the army, which has not yet occurred. South Sudan government recently said it did not have enough money to fund disarmament and the integration of all the armed factions.

Subsequently, Machar voiced his call for an extension of the deadline, a move that international observers have opposed.

Top US government officials last month said they would not accept more delays and might impose sanctions if deadlines are not met.

A UN Security Council delegation visited Juba last month in an attempt to persuade the two parties to solve the disputes over the pact.

Ahead of Machar and Kiir’s meeting in Kampala, President Museveni received a delegation of six people last week, led by Salva Kiir’s special envoy, Michael Makuei Lueth.

Past attempts to reconcile Kiir and Machar had previously yielded little benefit as ceasefire pacts were repeatedly violated by forces of the two principals.

Museveni implored the warring factions to spend more time exploring ways to rebuild South Sudan instead of resolving political differences.

The president has been involved in talks to bring the warring parties the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) to talk since they parted ways acrimoniously five years ago.

Fighting broke out in December 2013 when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar and sparked a chain of unrest.

Uganda deployed troops in the country saying it was intended to protect Uganda’s interests, safely repatriate citizens and secure vital installations at the invitation of Juba government.

The fighting in South Sudan has also cost hundreds of Ugandan traders billions in losses as the once-lucrative neighbouring market started to falter.

Uganda is home to more than one million refugees from South Sudan who have crossed into the country since violence broke out in the world’s youngest nation five years ago.

South Sudan refugees and asylum seekers in Uganda are accommodated at multiple resettlements set up in the West Nile and Northern Uganda sub-regions.

One of the facilities, Bidibidi refugee settlement, is home to over 224,000 refugees from South Sudan, making it one of the world’s largest refugee settlements.

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