South Sudan rejects venue for Kiir-Machar meeting

By The Eastafrican

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South Sudan government has rejected the proposed venue for the President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Dr Riek Machar face-to-face talks.

The Information Minister and government spokesperson, Michael Makuei, has said the historic meeting can only take place in a neutral country.

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) had slated the meeting for June 20 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“There are competing interests among Igad member states such as Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya,” Mr Makuei said.

The three countries had offered to host the Kiir-Machar meeting.

“It seems that there is some sort of undeclared competition,” he told the media in Juba.

Mr Makuei said President Kiir would rather travel to South Africa to meet Dr Machar.

“The best thing is to hold it in a neutral ground, so that none of these three countries take it for anything other than a neutral place,” Mr Makuei said in response to the Igad invitation.

Dr Machar has been under house arrest in South Africa since November 2016.

Last week, his faction expressed readiness of their leader to attend the talks in Addis Ababa.