South Sudan offered to allow a rebel representative to join its government on Friday, but ruled out Riek Machar, saying they had “had enough” of the rebel leader after five years of civil war.
“Machar cannot be part of government. We have had enough of him,” Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth told a news conference in the Ethiopian capital.
Despite that dismissal, Lueth said South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir would meet his arch-rival and former vice president Machar for face-to-face talks again next week.
The two men met in Addis Ababa this week for the first time since a peace deal collapsed spectacularly in 2016, leading to the deaths of hundreds of people in fighting.
The war that broke out in 2013, less than two years after oil-rich South Sudan gained independence from Sudan, has killed tens of thousands and forced millions from their homes.
Footage released by the Ethiopian government showed Kiir and Machar shaking hands and hugging in a three-way embrace with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed this week.
Machar’s rebel group SPLM-IO on Thursday condemned the current efforts by regional bloc IGAD to convene meetings to discuss peace. “Workshops” will not stop the war and IGAD’s overall model is “unrealistic”, the rebels said.
Despite the recriminations, Lueth said Kiir would meet Machar again next week in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.
“Preparations are afoot to give a new impetus to this new round of talks and ensure a successful outcome,” Sudan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said next week’s talks would be convened by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, a key player in South Sudan’s history.
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