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South Sudan’s Machar returns to Khartoum after Vatican retreat

SPLM-Io leader Riek Machar speaks at the peace celebration day in Juba on 31 October 2018 (AP Photo).

April 17, 2019 (KHARTOUM) – Riek Machar, the SPLM/A in Opposition leader Wednesday returned to the Sudanese capital to Rome where he took part in a retreat hosted by the Pone Francis last week.

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, Puok Both Baluang, SPLM (IO) Director for Information and Public Relations said Machar arrived in Khartoum at about 3:00 am.

“Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon wishes to express his profound gratitude and appreciation to the Holy See for inviting the leaders of South Sudan to attend the spiritual retreat aimed at confidence-building and pushing forward the peace process in South Sudan,” reads the statement.

Machar stressed that retreat ” has provided a powerful impetus for the leaders of South Sudan who were present at the retreat, to implement the Revitalized Peace Agreement (R-ARCSS) in letter and spirit,” said Baluang.

Machar according to a decision by the IGAD Council of Ministers will return to Juba after the formation of the transitional government next May as he will serve as First Vice President.

Due to the delay in the implementation of the pre-transitional period arrangements, the SPLM-IO called to postpone the launch of the transitional government.

It is not clear if the two leaders sealed an agreement during the retreat over this matter.

From the 10-11 April, the Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby organized a spiritual retreat to take place in the Vatican in which participated South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his former vice president Riek Machar.

The rival leaders were South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his former vice president Riek Machar who was invited, last week, to take part in a Vatican-hosted spiritual retreat led by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

After concluding his remarks at the end of the spiritual retreat, Pope Francis broke the protocol and kissed the feet of the South Sudan leaders, imploring them to work together for peace in South Sudan.



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