SOUTH SUDAN: Riek Machar to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican

JUBA, APRIL 2, 2019 (CISA)-Opposition leader Riek Machar has accepted an invitation by Pope Francis to attend a meeting in Vatican alongside President Salva Kiir.

The deputy spokesman for Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO), Manawa Peter Gatkuoth has confirmed that Machar received an official invitation for to attend the meeting.

“The meeting is expected to take place from 9 to 10 April,” Manawa said.

He said the upcoming meeting between President Salva Kiir, and former rebel chief, Riek Machar in the Vatican will focus on restoring confidence on the peace agreement of September 2018 that brought to an end civil war in South Sudan, and called proposed the formation of a transitional government of national unity.

President Salva Kiir on March 16 met Pope Francis in Vatican where the Pope expressed the wish to ascertain the conditions for a possible visit to South Sudan.

They also discussed, “Questions regarding the implementation of the agreement reached recently by the various political actors with a view to a definitive solution of the conflicts, the return of refugees and displaced persons as well as the development of the country.”

President Kiir is expected to return to Vatican with a select number of officials from South Sudan.

“His Excellency is also invited with a delegation that he will nominate to go and attend meetings or what is called a retreat in the Vatican from the 11th to 12th of April…in order to go and have meetings with the concerned bodies and the institutions,” said Michael Makuei, South Sudan’s Minister of Information.

The meeting between President Kiir and Riek Machar is expected to initiate the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement. This is as Pope Francis renewed plans to visit South Sudan after his trip of 2017 was postponed because of the civil war in the country.