South Sudan President, Salva Kiir is not ready to work with the country’s rebel leader, Riek Machar in the next Transitional Government of National Unity, an official said.
“We don’t want Juba to be deserted. We want our people to live in peace and harmony. Riek Machar should wait for elections and that is our position,” the South Sudanese information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth told the state-owned SSBC television on Thursday.
President Kiir met his rival and the country’s former vice president in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Wednesday, as part of discussions to negotiate an end to a civil war that broke out in December 2013.
Makuei said Machar will have to remain confined in South Africa.
“When President Salva Kiir agreed that Riek Machar should come here, the agreement between him and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister is that as soon as they finish the meeting, Riek Machar goes back to South Africa,” said the information minister.
He added, “But as of now his status seems to be under discussion now by the summit, so we will know what the final position of the summit is. But our position has been that if he is not going to South Africa, then he should be in one of the states that is not a member of IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] and not neighbouring South Sudan”.
Machar, in a meeting with the civil society and opposition groups in Addis Ababa, vowed to defend their views at his meeting with President Kiir.
The South Sudanese leader was accompanied by Cabinet Affairs minister, Martin Elia Lomuro, Petroleum minister, Ezekiel Lol Gatkouth, Information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth as well as the Gender and Social welfare minister, Awut Deng Achuil.
The last meeting between President Kiir and Machar immediately saw an outbreak of deadly clashes in the South Sudanese capital, Juba in July 2016. Machar was forced to flee the country into exile was later placed under house arrest in South Africa.
The conflict in South Sudan has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.
Last month, the United Nations Security Council gave the two warring sides in the South Sudan conflict a month to reach a meaningful peace deal or face sanctions.