20 July 2014

South Sudan: Rebels Send High-Level Delegation to Meet President Museveni

Photo: Sudan Tribune
South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Manchar

Addis Ababa — A high-level delegation of the rebel faction of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement (SPLM) led by the former vice-president, Riek Machar, will soon travel to the Ugandan capital, Kampala, to meet president Yoweri Museveni.

Rebels spokesman said the visit comes in response to requests by president Yoweri Museveni to "sort out any misunderstandings" between him and the rebel movement.

In a press release issued on Sunday by the opposition leader's spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, a 10-man delegation led by the deputy chairman of the SPLM/A [in opposition], General Alfred Ladu Gore, is expected to arrive in Kampala on Tuesday.

"A high level delegation of SPLM/SPLA will travel to the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on Tuesday, to meet the Ugandan top leadership. The delegation will be led by the deputy chairman, General Alfred Ladu Gore," partly reads the press release.

"This is in response to requests by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda to meet our chairman Dr Riek Machar Teny," Dak said.

He further explained that president Museveni since June has been requesting for a meeting with Machar to sort out any misunderstandings between the two leaders after the 15 December crisis in which Ugandan forces interfered in the internal conflict by fighting alongside Salva Kiir's forces against the opposition group.

"President Museveni has been asking for a meeting with Dr Machar in order to sort out any misunderstandings between the two leaders in the aftermath of the 15 December crisis in South Sudan. The process has been brokered by the former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, since 11 June," Dak added.

He said the delegation led by Machar's deputy Alfred Ladu Gore will include Dr. Dhieu Mathok Diing, chairperson for external relations, professor Oyet Nathaniel Pierino, chairperson for political mobilization, Mabior Garang de Mabior, chairperson for information and public relations, Hussein Mar Nyuot, chairperson for humanitarian affairs, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, deputy chairperson for external relations, among others.

Dak said the delegation will prepare for the expected face-to-face meeting between Machar and Museveni which is expected to take place in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, any time soon.

South Sudanese rebels led by Machar have been accusing Uganda of involvement in the internal conflict which started within the ruling SPLM party.

Kiir accused his former deputy of allegedly attempting coup, which Machar dismissed as a ploy to silence political reformists in the party.

Uganda immediately deployed its troops days after the violence in which they actively involved in combats using both ground and air attacks against Machar's rebels in many parts of the country.

The rebel leader had been resisting meeting Museveni, saying the Ugandan leader had to first withdraw its forces from South Sudan.

Uganda also insisted it would withdraw its troops only after deployment of proposed alternative IGAD regional forces, arguing that South Sudan leadership would collapse under the weight of Machar's forces should the forces withdraw.

However, during the June IGAD regional summit, president Museveni surprisingly admitted in front of regional leaders that there was no coup attempt in Juba as alleged, a previously sole reason for its forces deployment to save president Kiir's government.

He also agreed to withdraw his forces at an unspecified time.

The joint military effort by Uganda and South Sudan however failed to crash the opposition group, proving the war may become protracted for so long.

Analysts say Museveni's expected meeting with the rebel leader Machar could be an opportunity for him to discuss an exit strategy.

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