President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the participation of South Sudan’s opposition leader Riek Machar in the peace talks facilitated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Machar is set to meet with his rival Salva Kiir for the first time in nearly two years, according to AFP. He is the leader of the the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/A-In-Opposition.

Once comrades-in arms in the fight for independence, Kiir and Machar experienced a bitter falling out, a development that played a key part in the civil war that blights the future of the world’s youngest state.

In a statement, the presidency said that Ramaphosa consulted the leaders of IGAD countries on the peace process in South Sudan in June.

“The president commends IGAD countries for their tireless efforts in pursuit of a lasting and sustainable solution to the challenges facing South Sudan. In this regard, he welcomes and fully supports the latest efforts aimed at revitalising the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS),” said the presidency.

Ramaphosa expressed concern over the humanitarian crisis and displacement of people caused by the continued instability in South Sudan. He further called on stakeholders to commit to constructive dialogue to stop the violence.

The president reaffirmed South Africa’s commitment to continue working with IGAD and the African Union (AU) in assisting the people of South Sudan to achieve lasting peace, stability and development.

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