Peace talks to end the unrest in South Sudan were launched in neighbouring Sudan today attended by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar.
The talks, which are expected to last for at least two weeks, are being held under the sponsorship of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir in the capital Khartoum.
The negotiations are also being attended by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and representatives of the “troika” countries (the US, UK and Norway), along with EU and UN officials.
Addressing the opening session of talks, Al-Bashir reiterated his desire to push the negotiations forward with a view to ending South Sudan’s four-year civil war.
“We are redoubling our efforts to end the war and ensure peace for our brothers in South Sudan,” Al-Bashir said.
Kiir, for his part, stressed his willingness to work with Machar, his arch political rival, in hopes of achieving peace.
“I came here with an open mind and I hope my brother, Riek Machar, has come to do the same in order to stop the suffering of our people,” Kiir said during the opening session.
In late 2013, South Sudan erupted into a civil war pitting President Kiir against Machar, his former vice-president.
In 2015, the two sides signed a peace agreement brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (an eight-country East African trade bloc), but the deal collapsed and the conflict resumed a few months later.