ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – On Friday, South Sudan barred a governmental role from opposition leader Riek Machar, who hopes for a breakthrough in peace talks at the end of the Civil War.
The announcement came only a day and a half after Machar and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir met for the first time in two years, and even arranged an embarrassing triple hug with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who had organized the meeting.
However, as part of the internationally sponsored peace process, the two should meet again in a few days
"It is enough for the people of South Sudan," said Foreign Minister Martin Elia after the peace talks in Addis Ababa several African leaders participated. "If he wants to be president, he should wait for elections."
He added that Machar should be relocated after the talks "outside the region and not in any country near South Sudan". While there would be a vice presidency The transitional government for a member of its opposition movement Machar himself could not fill the place, Elia added.
At the same time, Sudan announced that the two men would meet in three days for new talks in their capital, Khartoum. South Sudanese Information Minister Michael Makuei confirmed the meeting, although he blamed Machar for the country's conflicts.
"The summit meeting in Khartoum was a decision of the heads of state [African]," Makuei said. "We will stick to it."
Machar's opposition movement made a statement condemning the statements, especially those from Makuei, who had repeated the "sufficient" comments. He said the statements hurt the process, even as the talks were "at a high level of maturity".
"This bad policy is from a well-known peace piler, and it's only meant to derail the peace process," the opposition said. He called on the public "to reject these statements as antifree agents in the regime".
The opposition reaffirmed their desire for peace and noted that they "given the intransigence of the regime" their "natural right to self-defense."
The meeting between long-time rivals on Wednesday evening had hopes for a kind of breakthrough in the peace process awakened as the situation in South Sudan became more desperate.
However, the recent naming proposed Otherwise, the peace process, which is being promoted by a group of neighboring states known as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), will continue to lag behind.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, with Kiir and Machar sharing power. However, a civil war broke out in 2013, when the country was fragmented by ethnicity. A peace agreement in 2015 broke up after a few months in fierce fighting in the capital Juba, and Machar barely escaped with his life.
Despite two years of talks to re-launch the peace process, battles have spread across the country with a dizzying toll. More than 4 million people have been displaced – half of them to neighboring countries – and the population is on the brink of famine. Tens of thousands have died and the use of rioting by combatants against civilians is alarmingly widespread, according to relief organizations.
Alan Boswell, a South Sudan analyst, said Juba's announcement was not a complete surprise, as she had often tried to withdraw Machar
"It's more of an indication that neither side is getting ready stated that it is still moving and accepting IGAD's proposal to try the 2015 deal again, "he said. "It will take much more than a hug and a handshake to make her change her mind about it."
The United States, which was instrumental in creating South Sudan, was also involved in the peace process, but lost patience with the players and demanded targeted sanctions against individuals in the South Sudanese government. Boswell said it supported the opposition, even though his troops suffered setbacks on the battlefield.
"Both sides believe that time is on their side, making peace difficult, and the opposition is encouraged by what they see as increasing isolation from Kiir's regime," he said. "Meanwhile, Kiir believes he has the military momentum and won the war."
For those who found two days confused by public shaking and a hug followed by an explicit disapproval, Information Minister Makuei said only on the South Sudanese way.
"You should understand that there is a difference between personal talk and mutual greeting," he told journalists. "Politically, we do not want Riek Machar, but he's a South Sudanese, so we interact socially with him."