BY TESFA-ALEM TEKLE
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed on Monday arrived in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, where he held talks with President Salva Kiir on bilateral and regional issues of common concern.
South Sudan’s acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Deng Dau Malek, said the meeting focused on bilateral relations with regional dimensions.
Abiy and Kiir further discussed on the progress to the implementation of South Sudan peace agreement reached on 2018.
“The two leaders headed the government secretariat when they held a meeting on bilateral matters with regional dimension including the implementation of the Revitalized peace agreement,” Deng told reporters after meeting.
“South Sudan values its historical ties with Ethiopia and appreciates Ethiopian key interest in restoring peace and stability,” said Deng.
According to the South Sudanese official, the Ethiopian Prime Minister has also held a side-line meeting with the First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny to deliberate on challenges hindering the implementation of the Peace Agreement.
At the same time, the Ethiopian State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Misganu Arega said that the two leaders exchanged views on matters of bilateral relations and regional stability.
Ambassador Misganu Arega, reiterated his government’s commitment to extend the necessary support for South Sudan to achieve a durable peace.
“Ethiopia pleads particular importance to the peace and stability of South Sudan and stands committed to peaceful resolution of issues,” said Arega.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister arrived in Juba on Monday morning for an official one-day working visit.
Upon his arrival at Juba International Airport, the Prime Minister and his delegation were cordially welcomed by President Salva Kiir and other senior government officials.
The Ethiopian high level delegation hailed the government of South Sudan for the warm welcome of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
“An official and colorful welcoming ceremony was organized on behalf of the Prime Minister for which Ethiopia is grateful,” said Ambassador Arega.
Dispute Over Ministrial Swap
Abiy’s visit to Juba comes two days after South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his First Vice President Riek Machar held a meeting to resolve a dispute over Kiir’s recent move of swapping two key ministerial posts.
President Salva sacked two top security ministers, violating the terms of a peace agreement with opposition party leader First Vice President Riek Machar.
Kiir fired the country’s defense minister Angelina Teny, who is also Machar’s wife, and interior minister Mahmoud Solomon in a move that violates the terms of the 2018 peace agreement.
He swapped the defense ministry set for Machar’s armed opposition (SPLM-IO) party to his ruling party and in exchange handed Machar’s party the interior ministry.
Kiir’s unilateral move has angered Machar and called for immediate reinstatement.
“The switch… is unilateral and a new cycle of violating the revitalized agreement,” said Puok Both Baluang, Machar’s spokesperson told the media.
Kiir, Machar Meeting
Last Friday, Kiir and Machar met and discussed in a bid to resolve the dispute created over swapping ministries.
The meeting ended without a breakthrough but the president office said a consensus was reached between the parties to hold a similar meeting at a later date “to resolve the issues at hand in the spirit of cooperation”
S.Sudan Peace Guarantors
Meanwhile, peace guarantors including the AUMISS, IGAD, and UNMISS have welcomed the recent meeting between the two parties to resolve the disputed ministerial swap yet urged the parties to expedite implementation of peace deal.
The peace guarantors in a joint statement said they “encourage a renewed focus by all signatories to the Revitalized Peace Agreement as outlined in the Roadmap, for its full and timely implementation”
They urged the parties “to maintain collegial collaboration, continuous consultations, and consensus-building in the letter and spirit of the Revitalized Agreement”.
(The East African Daily)