JUBA, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar on Tuesday arrived in Juba and is due to meet President Salva Kiir on Wednesday in a bid to evaluate progress on the outstanding issues.

Machar's spokesman Peter Manawa Gatkuoth told journalists in Juba that the rebel leader came to Juba to consult on the outstanding issues which include the number of states and their boundaries after the parties failed to resolve the issues last week.

Manawa disclosed they favor 23 states while the government favors increasing the number of states to more than the existing 32 which has caused deadlock.

The parties are now expected to resume talks under mediation of South African deputy president David Mabuza, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-member regional bloc.

The latest visit by Machar, leader of the main rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army-in opposition (SPLM/A-IO), comes in the wake of the recent proposal by the government to resolve the contentious issue on the number of states through referendum after both sides failed to reach consensus last week on the pending issue.

The former warring parties are also yet to complete the security arrangements that include screening, registration, and cantonment of their forces to form the 83,000 unified force as per the revitalized peace deal they signed in September 2018 in Ethiopia.

South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013, after President Salva Kiir sacked his deputy Machar leading to fighting between soldiers loyal to the respective leaders. Kiir and Machar are expected to form the transitional unity government in February 2020.

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