South Sudan rebel chief in Ethiopia for talks with President Kiir

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South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar arrived in Ethiopia for a meeting with President Salva Kiir, as part of talks to try to negotiate an end to a five-year civil war, a rebel spokesperson said.

“I can confirm to you that our chairman has arrived in Addis Ababa airport this morning,” Lam Paul Gabriel said on Wednesday.

Machar had been held under house arrest in South Africa since late 2016 after fleeing South Sudan. 

An Ethiopian government official also confirmed Machar’s arrival and said he would meet Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, before his talks with Kiir.

“Riek Machar has arrived,” Meles Alem, foreign ministry spokesman, told Reuters news agency.

Kiir and Machar are due to meet later on Wednesday. It will be the first between the two since a peace deal between the government and Machar’s rebel group fell apart in August 2016.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the civil war that broke out in late 2013 when troops loyal to Machar, the former vice president of South Sudan, launched a rebellion against the government.

All sides in the now complex and multi-faceted war stand accused by the United Nations and other bodies of committing atrocities against civilians.

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