The Ethiopian Prime Minister and current Chair of IGAD, PM Dr Abiy Ahmed has invited President Salva Kiir and the leader of main armed opposition group Riek Machar to meet in Addis Ababa within a week.
A statement released on Wednesday said the SPLM-IO acknowledged receipt of the invitation letter to its leader for “IGAD-led face-to-face talks with President Salva Kiir on the 20th of June, 2018 in Addis Ababa”.
“The Movement welcomes this invitation and salutes the courage of IGAD for reaching this prudent and timely decision, it will go a long way in building confidence in the peace process,” said Mabior Garang de Mabior, head of SPLM-IO National Committee for Information and Public Relations.
For his part, President Kiir didn’t issue a statement, but sources at the presidency confirmed the receipt of the invitation.
The invitation of the Ethiopian Premier for a face-to-face meeting comes after a similar one by the Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir to President Kiir and his main rival Machar.
The two rivals will meet the IGAD leaders on the sidelines of the upcoming African Union summit in Mauritania next month.
The SPLM-IO reiterated its commitment to the IGAD peace forum to revitalise the 2015 peace agreement stressing it would continue “to engage positively with IGAD and all friends of South Sudan interested in helping our people achieve peace”.
The South Sudan parties will hold Intensive Interlink Consultations from 16-18 June 2018 in Addis Ababa organised by the IGAD mediation to narrow the gaps on its proposals for a deal on the governance and security arrangements.