South Sudan’s warring parties will meet in Ethiopia on Monday, the latest deadline set by East African mediators to reach a deal to end 20 months of civil war.
President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar held a five-hour closed-door meeting late Sunday in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, with President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Umar al-Bashir of Sudan and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, the Kenyan presidency said Monday in an e-mailed statement.
South Sudan’s government said last week a breakthrough by the deadline was unlikely because the two sides couldn’t agree on governance structure, changes to the security apparatus, the judiciary, economic management and the division of power.
Fighting that erupted in December 2013 between government forces and rebels after Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of plotting to topple him has left tens of thousands of people dead. A split last week within the ranks of the main rebel group led by Machar complicates efforts to reach an accord.
South Sudan, the continent’s youngest nation, has sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil reserves after Nigeria and Angola, according to BP Plc data. Violence has cut crude output by at least a third to about 165,000 barrels per day, the Petroleum Ministry said in May.
Kiir traveled to Ethiopia after regional leaders urged him to attend, Cabinet Affairs Minister Elia Lomuro told reporters Sunday in South Sudan’s capital, Juba. The talks are being convened by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a bloc of East African nations, with the backing of other leading African countries, the U.S., China and the European Union.
“The leaders, who met until 11:00 p.m. in the night, are today set to study the IGAD-Plus draft peace agreement on South Sudan, before presenting to the warring parties for signature,” Kenya’s presidency said.