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JUBA - 17 May 2018

Veteran politician in Juba fails to attend Addis talks

File photo: Joseph Okell
File photo: Joseph Okell

South Sudan’s veteran politician and leader of USAP party, Joseph Okell said he was left 'furious' after was not given a ticket to attend the talks in Addis Ababa.

The South Sudan peace talks were opened officially by the East African regional bloc IGAD in Addis Ababa this afternoon.

Okell, who is also the leader of the National Agenda Parties, told Radio Tamazuj today that he had been invited by the mediation team to attend the talks but he did not receive the ticket in Juba.

“I and three others were invited and tickets were reportedly sent to us in Juba through the government, but the tickets did not reach us. I paid for tickets of three members of the party including the secretary general to attend the talks after our tickets went missing in Juba, but I remained in Juba,” he said.

“The secretary general of my party Ajang Bior and two others are already in Addis and they will ask IGAD about the issue,” he said.

“The tickets were sent to the government by IGAD,” he explained.

Government officials in Juba could not immediately be reached for comment.

Joseph Okell has recently accused the country’s cabinet affairs minister Martin Elia Lomuro of plotting a coup in his party and National Agenda parties’ group.

Lomuro is the Minister of Cabinet Affairs and as such is closely aligned with the ruling SPLM party headed by President Salva Kiir, though he belongs to another political party. His party is called the South Sudan Democratic Forum (SSDF) which was part of the unified umbrella of the National Agenda parties led by Joseph Okell.

The two men are at odds in Juba over political issues.

This month, twelve political parties in Juba signed a memorandum of understanding, committing themselves to operating under the ‘national agenda’ group chaired by Martin Elia Lomuro, replacing Joseph Okell.