President meets S Sudan leader

AU Chairman President Mugabe welcomes South Sudan president Salva Kiir Mayardit who paid a courtesy call on him at his hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, yesterday. - (Picture by Presidential photographer Joseph Nyadzayo)

AU Chairman President Mugabe welcomes South Sudan president Salva Kiir Mayardit who paid a courtesy call on him at his hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, yesterday. – (Picture by Presidential photographer Joseph Nyadzayo)

From Caesar Zvayi in ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
African Union chairman President Mugabe yesterday met South Sudan president Salva Kiir Mayardit who paid a courtesy call on him at his hotel here.

The leaders held hour-long closed door talks.

Emerging from the meeting, Mr Kiir — who was accompanied by his minister in the president’s office Mr Awon Guol Riak — hailed President Mugabe as the father of Africa, saying they had discussed bilateral issues.

‘‘We discussed our bilateral relations, he (President Mugabe) is the father of Africa,” Mr Kiir said.

Probed to highlight the situation in his country, the South Sudan leader said the situation was not as it was portrayed in the media.

“Talks are on-going, we are normal in South Sudan; of course you know the news that comes out is fabricated news,” he said.

“When you read that you will think if you go to Juba, you will find bodies at the airport littering the airport lounge, but that is not true.”

South Sudan became an independent State on July 9, 2011 following a referendum to secede from Sudan that passed with an overwhelming vote.

In December 2013, a power struggle broke out between president Kiir and his ex-deputy Riek Machar, as the president accused Mr Machar and 10 others of attempting a coup.

The fallout led to fighting, with rebels targeting members of Mr Kiir’s Dinka ethnic group and government soldiers attacking Nuers, Mr Marchar’s ethnic group.

The toll from the conflict is estimated at 10 000.

Five officials, including Mr Machar, are being tried for treason, charges they vehemently deny.

More than one million people are estimated to have been internally displaced, while more than 400 000 others fled to neighbouring countries, especially Kenya, Sudan and Uganda.