South Sudan’s exiled opposition leader Riek Machar is expected to depart today to the capital Juba to hold more talks with President Salva Kiir.

President Kiir on Saturday made a key compromise by cutting the 32 states back down to the original 10 — a key opposition demand — to pave the way for a transitional government of national unity.

But Kiir also included on top of the 10 regional states, three administrative areas of Ruweng, Abyei and Pibor.

Opposition leader Riek Machar said he rejected those three administrative areas, calling upon Kiir to reconsider the creation of the three areas.

“Dr. Machar is currently on his way to Juba to attend a very important meeting called for by IGAD. The meeting will take place in Juba on Tuesday,” Pouk Both Baluang, the SPLM-IO’s director for information, told Radio Tamazuj.

Pouk said Machar is being accompanied by Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s sovereign council.

He said the opposition leader will discuss with President Salva Kiir the pending issues of security arrangements and the three administrative areas.

According to Pouk, the planned meeting will pave the way for a unity government this month.

The opposition official said they are demanding the deployment of UN-mandated forces, before the formation of a unity government. He stressed the need for a compromise to have a contingent of protection forces deployed in major cities.

International pressure has been building on President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar to meet a February 22 deadline to establish a unity government.

The rival parties have twice failed to form the transitional government, first in May 2019 and then in November, when they agreed to a 100-day-long extension to resolve still-disputed issues and form a power-sharing government by 22 February 2020.