April 9, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s council of ministers rejected during its Friday meeting a proposal by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) head, Festus Mogae to arrange the first face-to-face meeting between the nation’s rival leaders.
- President Salva Kiir (L) and rebel leader Riek Machar (R) attend the signing a ceasefire agreement during an IGAD summit on the South Sudan crisis in Addis Ababa on 1 February 2015 (Photo: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)
JMEC’s chairperson, also a former president of Botswana, wrote to South Sudan president, Salva Kiir and the first vice-president designate, Riek Machar on 5 April, informing them of his plans to facilitate the first meeting between them.
“Your Excellency, I am prepared, should you wish to facilitate the first meeting between yourself and President Kiir, and would suggest this could be arranged on the afternoon of your arrival. I look forward to meeting you in Juba,” partly reads the letter signed by the JMEC chairman, Mogae, a copy of which Sudan Tribune obtained.
JMEC is the body which oversees the implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARSSC) that the two rival parties signed in August 2015 to end more than 21 months of civil war in the world’s youngest nation.
South Sudan’s information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, however, told reporters that JMEC’s request was rejected.
“After the deliberation, the council decided to reject the request from JMEC to arrange the first meeting between President Salva Kiir and first Vice President designated Riek Machar. We think this is not necessary,” said Makuei.
He did not divulge further details on why the council of ministers, at its meeting chaired by Kiir, took the decision.
The armed opposition leader is expected in the nation on 18 April. Kiir and his former deputy, Machar, who becomes first vice President in accordance with the peace agreement, have not met since the signing of the deal more than eight months ago.
Machar, in his response to JMEC’s chairman, confirmed that he would travel to Juba on 18 April to subsequently form the much-anticipated unity government with President Kiir.