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JUBA - 14 Jan 2020

Machar returns to Juba for talks on contentious issues

South Sudan's exiled opposition leader Riek Machar has returned to Juba for another round of talks on the contentious issue of the number of states and their boundaries.

Machar, who lives in Khartoum, landed in Juba in a Sudanese plane this afternoon. He was accompanied by deputy head of Sudan’s sovereign council Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemeti.

 Mr. Machar’s return to participate in crucial talks is seen as an important step towards the implementation of the peace deal as a 22 February deadline for forming a unity government approaches.

Tut Gatluak, Presidential Advisor on Security Affairs, told reporters at Juba Airport that President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar will hold another round of talks on pending tasks.

He further said Deputy President David Mabuza, in his capacity as South Africa’s special envoy to South Sudan, will facilitate meetings on the outstanding issues which include the number of states and their boundaries.

The presidential adviser says he is expecting a breakthrough in negotiations on the contentious issue of the number of states and their boundaries.

During the consultative meeting of parties that took place from 1 to 4 December 2019, South Africa’s Deputy President David Mabuza said meaningful progress was made wherein parties moved from their original five divergent positions towards consensus on two positions, which are 23+1 and 32+ states.

The rival parties have twice failed to form the unity government, first in May 2019 and then in November the same year, when they agreed to give themselves100 days to resolve disputed issues and form a unity government by 22 February 2020.

Under the terms of the peace deal, the parties are to create a unified army and agree on the number of states and their boundaries.