June 28, 2015 (NAIROBI) – South Sudan’s former vice-president, Riek Machar, who leads an armed opposition faction of the ruling SPLM, has discussed challenges to the ongoing peace process with former president of Mali, Alpha Konare, who is the African Union’s (AU) appointed high representative for South Sudan.
The two sides, according to officials, met in Nairobi on Saturday for the first time since appointment of the former Malian president as AU’s envoy for the war-torn country.
“Former president of Mali, Alpha Oumar Konare, who is the AU’s high representative for South Sudan met with our chairman, Dr. Riek Machar, on Saturday,” said James Gatdet Dak, rebel leader’s spokesperson.
“They discussed the peace process,” he said.
Machar and the AU’s envoy, he said, had “cordial discussions” in which they shared ideas on the ongoing peace process to end the 18-month long civil war in the country, particularly on the challenges faced in the process.
Konare was appointed on 2 June by the chairperson of the AU’s Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, with the aim to further strengthen the AU’s contribution towards ending the conflict in South Sudan and the untold suffering inflicted upon the civilian population.
It was also in light of the commission efforts towards the early operationalization of the AU high-level ad hoc committee that was established by the Peace and Security Council (PSC) at its 474th meeting, held on 5 December 2014. This is in order to enhance Africa’s support to the mediation efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
The envoy was president of the Republic of Mali from 1992 to 2002 and became chairperson of the AU commission from 2003 to 2007 as well as chairperson of the AU high-level panel for Egypt, between 2013 and 2014.
In the discharge of his responsibilities, he is supposed to maintain close contact with the South Sudanese parties and other stakeholders; interact with the IGAD leaders, other African stakeholders and the members of the ad-hoc high-level committee.
He is to facilitate a collective and coordinated African action, in the search for a negotiated solution; and work with the United Nations and other international actors, in support of the African-led efforts.