Machar leaves S. African detention - Daily Nation

Riek Machar in Addis Ababa for talks with Salva Kiir

Wednesday June 20 2018

Riek Machar

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar (in light blue shirt) chats with Deputy Chairman of SPLM-Oppositioni in Addis Ababa on June 20, 2018. Dr Machar is in the Ethiopian capital for an expected face-to-face meeting with President Salva Kiir. PHOTO | COURTESY 

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South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar has arrived in Addis Ababa on his first trip outside South Africa where he had been under house arrest for the last one and a half years.

Dr Machar touched down at the Bole International Airport in what could be the latest sign yet that the planned meeting with his nemesis Salva Kiir is in the offing.


Dr Machar's Spokesman in Kenya James Oryema would not confirm immediately if the meeting would take place on Wednesday, but said Dr Machar was in the Ethiopian capital to continue with the peace talks.

His walk-out from house detention followed negotiations to have him freed.

Two weeks ago, Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga toured Pretoria and presented Kenya's proposal to protect Dr Machar's allies in Kenya as long as he would accept to meet with President Kiir in person.

But Dr Machar's freedom was only endorsed by the council of foreign ministers of the regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), which had vouched for his detention in the first place.

His presence at the talks, which have failed to reach a new deal, was always an issue.

In fact, as late as February, Igad had proposed that he should not be at the table in person.

It appears the decision to allow him out of house arrest may have been influenced by realisation that a true peace deal can only be reached if Mr Kiir and Dr Machar come face-to-face.

On Wednesday, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said he would  join other African leaders in Addis on Thursday for the talks on Juba crisis.

The meeting, according to Deputy State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena, will be led by Igad and will seek to is find ways of restoring peace in the troubled nation.

"Kenya will continue to work with other countries in ensuring there is peace in our neighbours,” she said.