IGAD renews bid for Kiir,Machar talks

South Sudan’s then vice president Riek Machar (left) and President Salva Kiir pay their respects at John Garang’s Mausoleum in Juba on the second anniversary of South Sudan becoming an independent state on July 9, 2013. Andrea Campeanu / Reuters

The regional body that negotiated the South Sudan peace agreement is now lobbying for a face-to-face meeting between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar to build confidence.

The Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) noted that lack of meetings between the two leaders has been cited as one of the challenges impeding the implementation of the peace agreement.

David Shearer, head of UN in South Sudan, said lack of face-to-face meeting between the two leaders is one of the unresolved issues, even though the peace agreement has had reduced fighting over the past four months.

President Kiir has been insisting that Machar goes to Juba for consultation since the peace agreement has been signed and there is no need for him to continue staying outside the country.

In early July, the government invited Dr Machar to Juba for consultations, but the SPLM-IO demanded that he first be released from the house confinement in Khartoum and be allowed to bring in his external security detail from Sudan.

Following the September 2018 revitalised peace agreement, the signatories were supposed to form a transitional government on May 12 after eight months pre-transition period but later agreed to postpone it for six months because some of the pre-requisites had not been met.

Among the challenges is lack of funds for cantonment, training and the unification of the armed forces. However on July 21, the South Sudan Joint Defence Board ordered all government troops and rebel forces to assemble at the nearest cantonment sites or barracks as soon as possible. The process is supposed to be completed by July 31