South Sudan sends peace delegation to meet rebel chief

South Sudan sends peace delegation to meet rebel chief
A government-sponsored negotiations team flew to South Africa on Wednesday to discuss terms with rebel chief, Riek Machar, who has not been allowed to leave his home since December.
2 min read
30 June, 2017
Angelo Beda, the leader of the delegation, in 2004 [AFP]

A delegation of high-level South Sudanese representatives arrived in South Africa on Wednesday to begin negotiations with the leader of the rebel army.

Angelo Beda, co-chair of a government-sponsored negotiations team (the National Dialogue Committee) was joined by three high-ranking officials in talks with Riek Machar, leader of the SPLA/IO.

"Our mission for coming here is not secret, we went to President Salva Kiir before we left and he approved. So we are here for one mission, to bring peace and stability to the country," Beda told the Sudan Tribune.

The South Sudanese regime, led by President Salva Kiir, had previously promised there would be no negotiations with Riek Machar until he had decided to give up violence.

Beda said in June that peace talks must be founded on a non-violent basis and Machar would only be allowed to participate if he denounced the rebellion.

"We want to replace violence with peaceful means," said the co-chair of the national dialogue committee, Angelo Beda.

Beda is joined by a list of former regime ministers, including three former ministers for agriculture, Betty Ogwaro, Reverend Mathiang and Lily Albino Akol Akol.

Also in attendance is the former South Sudanese ambassador to the UN, Francis Mading Deng. Deng published a book in 2016 on establishing a peace process in Sudan and South Sudan through meaningful dialogue.

Machar's circumstances may have changed as he has not been allowed to leave his home in Pretoria since he arrived in South Africa in December.

"I cannot travel because I am still under house confinement and detention," Machar wrote to the president of Uganda in May.

"It may take President Museveni to intercede with President [Jacob] Zuma [of South Africa] and other IGAD leaders to let me free to travel."

A spokesperson for the rebel army, the Sudanese People's Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA/IO) said they had repeatedly called for peace talks without success.

"We in the SPLA (IO) have repeatedly made it quite clear both to the suffering and oppressed people of South Sudan, the region, the UN and the international community that the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) has to be resuscitated, reviewed and revived," said William Gatjiath Deng in a statement.