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South Sudan welcomes Kenyan opposition leader’s peace efforts

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The South Sudanese government on Sunday welcomed efforts by Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga to coordinate peace talks between the country’s rival leaders aimed at ending over four years of conflict in the world’s newest nation.

Government Spokesman Michael Makuei said South Sudan has no opposition to Odinga’s peace mediation role in the South Sudan conflict, adding that the politician leader should not conduct parallel mediations because the government does not want the peace talks to be taken away from the regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

“The president has no objection to Odinga coordinating a meeting between him and Riek Machar and the government welcomes it. But that meeting should only be under the auspices of IGAD because we don’t want the peace mediation role to be taken away from IGAD,” Makuei told Xinhua by phone.

The Kenyan leader recently embarked on peace mediation efforts with the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar in a bid to the find lasting solution to the ongoing civil war.

The National Super Alliance (NASA) leader met Kiir in Juba last month and also traveled to South Africa on Friday where he held talks with the exiled leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) Machar.

“I have had a fruitful discussion with Raila Odinga in the quest for peace in our country. SPLA-IO and myself have been advocating this peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Machar wrote on his official tweeter account on Friday.

Meanwhile, Odinga has clarified that his recent missions to South Sudan and South Africa where he held talks with Kiir and Machar respectively were aimed at understanding the current position of each of the two leaders on the various issues separating them and which have implications for peace and stability in South Sudan, Kenya and the region.

“Odinga’s mission was complementary to the talks that have been going on to bring together the various parties to the conflict in South Sudan under the auspices of IGAD in Addis Ababa,” Odinga’s spokesman Dennis Onyango said in a statement issued in Nairobi on Sunday. 

Onyango said Odinga remains hopeful that these efforts will soon bear fruits. He added that there is however no planned talks between the two leaders—Kiir and Machar—through Odinga’s efforts as reported in section of the media on Sunday.

South Sudan descended into civil war in late 20013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

The UN has estimated that about four million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 between the rival leaders under United Nations pressure led to the establishment of a transitional unity government, but was shattered by renewed fighting in July 2016.

IGAD is yet to announce the next date for the negotiations after the second round ended without any deal in May.



South Sudan to introduce bigger banknote amid rising inflation

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The Central Bank of South Sudan said Monday it will introduce higher banknote of 500 South Sudanese pounds (SSP) amid rising inflation in the conflict-torn East African nation.

The bank said the new bank note that features the image of the country’s revolutionary leader John Garang will be introduced soon.

“The Bank of South Sudan would like to inform the general public that it is introducing a new banknote of 500 South Sudanese pounds as legal tender in the Republic of South Sudan,” reads the public notice published on local newspapers.

South Sudan depends on oil revenue for 98 percent of its budget, but production decreased significantly due to civil war that erupted in December 2013, causing most oilfields in the country’s oil-rich northern region to shut down.

This led to fall in production to less than 130,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 350,000 bpd in 2011.

The East African nation is currently struggling with hyperinflation amid shortage of foreign reserves to support imports.

The local currency is currently trading at 139 SSP for one U.S. dollar at the official bank rate and 320 SSP for one dollar in the black market.


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