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JUBA/KHARTOUM - 19 Jul 2019

Kiir's office: Conditions set by Machar ‘unrealistic’

Conditions set by opposition leader Riek Machar for his return to Juba are totally unrealistic, the president’s office has said.

Mr Machar was invited by the government to meet with President Salva Kiir to discuss the peace process. A new government was supposed to be formed in May but was delayed until November, and security arrangements are facing multiple delays.

“We don’t see the need for conditions. Riek Machar is part of the peace deal and his team is already here in Juba,” Ateny Wek Ateny, President Kiir’s spokesperson told Radio Tamazuj on Thursday.

Ateny further said the conditions confirm that the opposition leader has not yet demonstrated goodwill for the planned meeting in Juba.

“The president also previously invited Machar to come to Juba with security assurances, so we believe that the conditions set by Machar are unrealistic,” said Ateny.

“Machar’s wife is now leading the SPLM-IO team in Juba and the SPLA-IO deputy chief of staff is here. Such conditions can delay the implementation of the peace agreement,” he added.

Ateny, who is also the presidential press secretary, pointed out that Kiir cannot ask regional leaders to lift Machar’s house arrest.

“Machar was placed under house arrest by IGAD for him to commit to the peace process,” he said. “The issue of house arrest will be handled by the peace monitors because they are the ones overseeing the agreement”.

For his part, Pouk Both Baluang, the SPLM-IO’s director for information said South Sudan government has not yet responded to Machar’s letter.

“Nothing has happened until now. Dr. Machar has not received any feedback from Juba or Khartoum regarding the planned meeting,” he said.

In a letter dated July 8 and sent to President Kiir's security adviser, Tut Gatluak, Machar said he is ready to talk with the president to discuss the challenges of implementing the peace deal if certain assurances were made.

He said the terms of his house arrest must be lifted by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Among the demands, Machar asked Kiir to allow Sudan’s military leader to accompany him to Juba if the regional bloc fails to lift his house arrest.

Machar, who under the terms of the peace agreement is to be reinstated as first vice president, resides in Sudan but cannot travel to the other IGAD countries.

He fled into exile in 2016 after heavy clashes in the capital Juba.