Sudan PM visits Juba amid political crisis
Published on: August 20, 2021 05:59 (EAT)
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok arrived in Juba on Thursday for two days of talks aimed at bolstering peace efforts in South Sudan amid a political crisis within the SPLM/A-IO group led by South Sudan’s First Vice President Riek Machar where his former chief of staff, General Simon Gatwech, recently announced he had ousted Machar as chairman of the party and commander-in-chief of its forces. Deadly fighting ensued from the split. Officials from Khartoum and Juba are expected to discuss bilateral ties between the two countries and the implementation of the Juba peace deal signed last year between Sudan’s transitional government and several armed groups. Sudanese Foreign Affairs Minister Mariam al-Mahdi, who accompanied Hamdok, told reporters at Juba International Airport that the Sudan leadership is concerned about the slow implementation of the South Sudan peace deal. “We are observing the very positive development that is taking place, but there is still very observed slowness,” al-Mahdi said. “People are very concerned to revitalize and to support further the government of South Sudan to implement the agreement.” Hamdok is scheduled to meet with South Sudan President Salva Kiir, Machar and other political players as well as diplomats from the United States, Britain and Norway. Hamdok’s visit comes after one by Workneh Gebeyehu, the head of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional group trying to advance the peace process. During his visit to Juba last week, Workneh said that the internal troubles within the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) needed to be resolved quickly. Fighting broke out within the SPLM/A-IO after Simon Gatwech Dual, Machar’s former chief of general staff, declared on August 4 that Machar was ousted as the party’s leader. Top members of Machar’s faction, including former deputy Henry Odwar, later switched their allegiance to Gatwech, accusing Machar of single-handedly running all party affairs. Following a meeting of IGAD ministers last week, the regional body said in a statement that the SPLM/A-IO split is beyond an intraparty crisis and could have significant immediate and long-term implications for the 2018 peace deal. South Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Beatrice Khamisa, speaking Thursday while standing alongside Hamdok, said officials would discuss the SPLM/A-IO and bilateral issues. “We have over the years signed cooperation agreements between South Sudan and Sudan,” she said. “I think those will be examined by various ministers in South Sudan and their counterparts.” Juba and Khartoum have signed cooperation agreements on citizenship, border issues and trade.