|By Deng Machol
Juba – Sudan has proposed an initiative to host a meeting between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and former vice president, deputy in the ruling party leader Riek Machar, who turned rebel in late 2013.
This was revealed by a high-level Sudanese delegation, which visited Juba capital South Sudan Tuesday, handed a message from Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to his South Sudanese counterpart president Salva Kiir.
The delegation included Sudan’s Foreign Minister Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed, Oil and Gas Minister Azhari Abdul-Ghader Abdullah, Chief of National Intelligence and Security Service Salah Abdallah.
In the statement said the message was relating to an initiative to support the efforts to realize peace between the South Sudanese rivals.
The message expressed Sudan’s readiness to host a proposed meeting between President Kiir and the opposition leader Machar, on a yet-to-be-disclosed date in a bid to reach final peaceful settlement to the conflict.
Kiir welcomed the Sudanese initiative, reiterating his government’s readiness to take part in it and make it successful to achieve security and stability in South Sudan.
Of recently, the foreign ministers of the member states in the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development in Africa (IGAD) agreed in their meeting last week to hold a face-to-face meeting between President Kiir and opposition leader Machar.
The meeting tends to revive the peace process in South Sudan and urge the parties to the conflict to implement a peace deal brokered by the IGAD in August 2015.
Martin Elia Lomuro, acting South Sudan Foreign Minister, said Kiir welcomed the initiative from his Sudanese counterpart and stands ready to hold talks with his ex- rival.
He revealed that the peace initiative by the Sudanese leader will not affect efforts under the IGAD peace revitalization process.
“We now await this initiative to take place within the context of the IGAD process. It is not a parallel initiative; it is initiative within the context of IGAD revitalization process. We are happy that this is coming from Sudan,” Lomuro told the press in Juba.
The minister said that the two countries also agreed to cooperate on oil production since they signed the 2012 agreement that allows South Sudan to pay oil dues to Sudan through transportation through Port Sudan.
South Sudan’s oil production plummeted due to conflict from over 350,000 barrels per day (bpd) to less than 160,000 bpd coupled with the economic hardship that led Juba to negotiate oil pipeline fee with its northern neighbor.
South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world. The UN estimates that about 4 million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally, the conflict has also left around 10,000 dead.
An IGAD broker peace deal signed in August 2015 between the rival leaders under UN pressures led to the establishment of a transitional unity government, but was shattered by renewed fighting in July 2016.
President Kiir and rebel leader Dr. Machar last meet in July 2016 when the violence erupted at the presidential palace, forced Dr. Machar [to] fled the country and is currently in South Africa under house arrest. His group has previously insisted that Machar must be part of negotiations for peace and stability of South Sudan.