Riek Machar makes first visit to Juba since October 2018


South Sudan’s exiled rebel leader Riek Machar is expected to make his first visit to Juba in a year for talks Monday with President Salva Kiir, government and opposition sources told AFP.

“He’s expected to come and sit with President Salva Kiir so that they can discuss all the outstanding issues of the peace agreement and the way forward,” government spokesman Michael Makuei told AFP on Sunday.

The last public appearance of the two in Juba was on October 31, 2018, when Machar returned to the capital for the first time in over two years for the commemoration of a peace agreement in a ceremony graced by a host of regional leaders including Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Ethiopia’s Sahle-Work Zewde, and Somalia’s Mohamed Abdullahi.

Kiir has not been seen with Machar since a meeting at the Vatican last April, during which Pope Francis kissed the feet of the two men accused of war crimes.

South Sudan split away from Sudan in 2011 after decades of war but plunged into its own conflict at the end of 2013 after Kiir sacked Machar as vice president.

Troops loyal to both men clashed in the capital that December and ethnically charged fighting soon spread across the state, shutting down oil fields, forcing millions to flee and killing hundreds of thousands of people.

Both sides signed a peace deal in September 2018, under pressure from international and regional powers.

A key provision of the peace deal is the integration of former rebels in the army, which has still not occurred.

The cost of these measures could reach $285 million, but only $10 million has been provisioned so far.

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