Opposition urges Kiir presence at next week's meeting
South Sudan’s main opposition group has said that President Salva Kiir's participation at meetings in Addis Ababa next week is "necessary".
All parties to the peace deal were invited by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to hold a meeting on 21 August, in a bid to salvage the stalled peace deal, with three months left before a unity government is meant to be established.
Speaking to Radio Tamazuj from Juba on Friday, Manawa Peter Gatkuoth, deputy spokesman for Machar's SPLM-IO underlined the president’s fundamental role in the efforts to bring peace in South Sudan.
"We think the participation of the president at the meeting next week is needed. Nobody can take tough decisions on behalf of the president,” he said.
“The presence of the president, Dr Machar and the other leaders is very important, because our people have suffered a lot from the conflict. We don’t want the peace agreement to be extended again,” he added.
Manawa confirmed that the SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar will participate in the talks, which are aimed at finding a solution to the pending issues in the peace deal. He stressed the necessity for the principles to take part in such negotiations to add impetus to the critical pending tasks in the peace deal, which is behind schedule.
Manawa, a former minister in Jonglei region, said the rival parties are expected to take a political decision to break the deadlock over the number of states.
Information Minister Michael Makuei on Wednesday said President Kiir will not attend week's meeting in Ethiopia, saying only that they will send three officials to represent the government.
President Salva Kiir, opposition leader Riek Machar and a handful of other opposition groups signed the peace deal in September 2018.
However creating a unified army and determining the number of states remain the most challenging issues in the agreement.