S. Sudan rebel leader vows to return home, despite conditions

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October 17, 2016 (KAMPALA) - South Sudan’s former first
Vice-President, Riek Machar has vowed a return to the country, months
after violent clashes forced him out of the capital, Juba.

JPEG - 23.7 kb
Machar speaks on a mobile phone after an interview with Reuters in
Kenya’s capital Nairobi July 8, 2015

In an interview on BBC’s Hard talk programme, Machar said he was
optimistic of negotiating a peace deal with South Sudan President
Salva Kiir.

"I’m going to return to South Sudan,” he said from South Africa,
adding, "Because President Salva Kiir doesn’t want democratic and
transparent and fair elections to be conducted, he attacked us, he has
restarted the war.”

Machar’s forces and those loyal to President Kiir clashed in Juba on
the eve of the country’s Independence Day, leaving over 200 dead. The
incident forced the rebel leader out of Juba, to the Democratic
Republic of Congo and Khartoum for treatment.

Renewed violence in the young nation, aid agencies say, has forced
over 100,000 civilians to flee into South Sudan’s neighbouring

Machar, a signatory to the now fragile peace deal that led to
formation of a coalition government, urged regional and African
leaders to help in the restoration of South Sudan’s peace process.

"But I am hoping that wise leaders in the region, and in Africa and
the rest of the world will throw up a political process which will
bring about peace again, and the resuscitation of the peace agreement,
and the reconstitution of the transitional government of national
unity,” he told the London-based station.

The rebel leader said he was not warmonger, stressing that his troops
only defended themselves against attacks from government forces.


President Kiir said Machar would only be allowed to return to the
young nation if he denounces violence and allows the current coalition
government to implement the 2015 peace agreement.

“The region should stand with the transitional government of national
unity to implement the agreement on the resolution of the conflict in
the republic of South Sudan. This was the agreement they [regional
leaders and friends] made themselves despite our observations but we
accepted because we wanted peace and stability in this country," Kiir
said Saturday.

He added, "And I believe the events of July should themselves be proof
of concerns which South Sudanese were raising. If they want this
agreement to be implemented, they should allow the current first vice
president and his team to work with me and other leaders ready to
cooperate to implement this agreement."

The South Sudanese leader was speaking at an occasion he hosted at his
residence. A number of with senior cabinet members, security and
high-ranking military officers attended the event, a few days after
rumour spread that the president had "died".

President Kiir relieved Machar of his post, appointing the rebel’s
ex-chief negotiator, Taban Deng Gai as the first Vice President in
South Sudan’s interim government.

Machar has, however, described Gai’s appointment as "illegal".

The opposition leader has called for rapid deployment of the African
Union-approved regional forces in order to salvage the peace agreement
signed in August 2015.


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