Kiir leaves Juba for the Vatican, opposition official says Machar ‘not’ going

South Sudan President, Salva Kiir Mayardiit boarding a plane for the Vatican (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

April 9th 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – South Sudan President, Salva Kiir Mayardiit, has just left the capital Juba for the Vatican city where he is expected to attend a spiritual retreat organized by Pope Francis in a bid to try to build confidence between him and opposition leaders who include SPLM-IO leader Dr. Riek Machar.

Kiir’s travel came two days after the country’s First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai, left the capital Juba for the Vatican ahead of Kiir’s expected arrival this evening.

“The President of the Republic, H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit and his accompanying delegation left Juba for Vatican, Rome this morning,” said a statement by the Presidency this afternoon.

The meeting is expected to bring together Salva Kiir and opposition leader such as SPLM-IO leader Dr. Riek Machar Teny, Gabriel Changson Chang, leader of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) and Pagan Amum, the leader of the SPLM-FDs.

Machar ‘not’ going

However, as a surprise to many, an opposition diplomat told the Nyamilepedia that until the afternoon hours of Tuesday, Machar did not receive any permission to leave and as such he believes that Machar will not attend the Vatican meeting.

“Until this afternoon of Tuesday, we did not receive the permission for our leader to go to the Vatican, I think he is not going to attend this Vatican meeting,” the opposition official told the Nyamilepedia on the condition of anonymity.

The opposition official further accused some regional leaders do not want Machar to attend the important meeting aimed at building confidence between the rival South Sudanese leaders saying the Vatican informed the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The source said Abiy agreed but other regional leaders refused to allow Machar to go.

“The Vatican said it had wrote to the Ethiopian Prime Minster and did not hear back. We also spoke to him [and] he accepted but other leaders from the region made it very clear to us that they do not want Machar to attend the meeting,” the diplomat said.