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Kenya’s Odinga says his role is complementary to IGAD efforts in South Sudan

June 10, 2018 (JUBA) - Kenyan former prime minister Sunday denied brokering a meeting between the South Sudanese president and his main rival in parallel to a meeting the IGAD organize in Khartoum.

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South Sudanese former First Vice President and rebel leader, Riek Machar greets Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga in Pretoria on 8 June 2018 (ST Photo)

Raila Odinga met recently with President Salva Kiir in Juba and the former First Vice President Riek Mack in Pretoria amid reports that he would organize a meeting between them Kiir in Nairobi.

His move coincided with a Sudanese initiative in coordination with the IGAD Chair to gather the two leaders in Khartoum before another meeting on the sidelines of the African Union summit with the leaders of the East African block.

So his efforts were seen as a manifestation of an open competition between the countries of the region, as it appeared as supported by President Uhuru Kenyatta and instigated by South Sudanese officials reportedly frustrated with the IGAD handling of the process.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson Dennis Onyango on Sunday, Odinga sought to clarify his initiative, saying it aimed at better understanding of the outstanding issues between the two South Sudanese leaders, pointing to the conflict’s repercussions on, Kenya and the whole region.

The statement further said the efforts of the former Kenyan prime minister are "complementary to the talks" brokered by the IGAD and expressed hopes that it will bear fruits soon.

"There is, however, no planned talks between the two leaders, President Salva Kiir and Dr Riek Machar, through Mr Odinga‚Äôs efforts as reported in a section of the media today," he further stressed.

Following the meeting on Friday in South Africa, Onyango and Machar didn’t issue a statement but a South Sudanese rebel official said the discussions mainly focused on how to prince peace and stop the conflict and created conducive environment for the return of displaced people to their areas.

For his part, South Sudanese government spokesperson and Information Minister Michael Makuei told the Chinese news agency Xinhua that President Kiir has no objection that Odinga coordinates a meeting between him and Machar but it should be done under the IGAD auspice.

"Because we don’t want the peace mediation role to be taken away from IGAD," Makuei added without explaining how the Kenyan politician can coordinate the face-to-face meeting.

(ST)