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JUBA - 1 Jan 2014

Kiir and Machar delegations to start talks in Ethiopia

The two delegations for negotiations over the crisis in South Sudan have arrived in Addis Ababa, where talks are going to be mediated by the retired Kenyan general Lazaro Sumbeiywo.

President Salva Kiir’s delegation is led by Nhial Deng Nhial, a former confidante of the late John Garang. The other delegation is led by Taban Deng Gai, the former governor of Unity State, accompanied by Rebecca Garang, the wife of Garang, founder of the SPLA.

Also joining the Kiir delegation, notably, is the former staunch ally of Riek Machar, Lam Akol, a member of the opposition and the Shilluk leader who joined Machar in the breakaway in 1991.

Joseph Okello of the Union of Sudan African parties is also on the team as well as Riek Gai, the national health minister. He was until 2011 member of the party of President Omar Bashir of Sudan. The total delegation from President Kiir consists of 21 persons: 14 negotiators, 5 secretaries and media spokespersons.

The delegation of Riek Machar is considerably smaller. Besides Madam Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, wife of the late John Garang, Machar also appointed Peter Adwok Nyaba, the former minister of higher education who was until recently kept detained by President Salva Kiir.

He was among the first to be released after the international community, including the mediators asked for the release of all detainees.

Machar also delegated Taban Deng Gai, the former governor of Unity State, who won a contested election in 2011 against Machar’s wife Angelina Teny. Gai was removed from his position as governor just two weeks before Riek Machar was dismissed from the vice presidency.

The fourth official negotiator on behalf of Machar is Hussein Mar Nyuot, he was until recently the acting governor of Jonglei State. The capitals of Unity Sate (Bentiu) and Jonglei (Bor) are in the hands of forces loyal to Machar.

Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom told the press today that the first discussions will focus on "monitoring mechanisms for the ceasefire."

File photo: Nhial Deng Nhial, leader of the government delegation