Picture from the past where the three use to be as one…!
Riek Machar, the head of the SPLM/A-in-Opposition, has met with the SPLM ‘Group of Eleven’ including Pagan Amum in Addis Ababa, ahead of his meeting with South Sudanese president Salva Kiir.
This morning the rebel leader first met with his own negotiating team, before meeting with the recently released detainees including by Pagan Amum, former SPLM secretary-general, at the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa.
A group of 11 political detainees was released by South Sudan’s government in two groups, the first group of seven in late January – after which they were sometimes referred to as the SPLM ‘Group of Seven’ or G7 – and another group of four in April.
The meeting between Machar and the ex-detainees lasted for about a half hour.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Pagan Amum said, “We cannot allow this war to continue for long. We must make sure that this war is stopped to rescue our country and our young state.”
“Our people and nation is divided by this war and being destroyed and disintegrated by this war, with unleashing this hatred and tribal animosities to proportions that never was experienced in South Sudan before.”
Amum said they discussed with Machar how to end the war and bring peace to South Sudan and transition the country toward “peace and democracy.”
“We have emerged from detention without bitterness, with a positive focus to bring an end to this war, to work to bring peace back to our country, and to bring democratic changes so that South Sudan is a stable state, so that South Sudan is a free, peaceful, democratic and prosperous country,” he added.
He said in spite of the “horrific” events since December, “Our dreams are still alive” that the country will reunited and rebuild.
Amum mentioned the group was also looking forward to meeting President Salva Kiir to urge him to end the war.
Machar is now staying at the Sheraton Hotel whereas Salva Kiir has not yet arrived at the venue for the talks. It is expected that Machar may leave the hotel for an afternoon meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, but as of 1:40 p.m. he was still at the hotel.