January 30, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The former vice-president, Riek Machar, who now leads the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation in Opposition (SPLM-In-Opposition) welcomed the release of 7 political detainees and rejected the government’s decision to charge him and his six other colleagues of treason was "rubbish".
- Former South Sudan vice-president Riek Machar speaks at a press conference on 26 July, announcing his intention to run for the presidency in 2015 (Photo: AP/Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin)
Machar was on Wednesday reacting to the announcement in Juba by the minister of Justice, Paulino WanaWilla, that Machar and his colleagues with him, namely Taban Deng Gai, former governor of Unity state and Alfred Lado Gore, former minister of environment plus the four still in detention must face trial for treason against the state.
The former deputy president who always criticised Kiir for dictatorial tendencies however responded by saying there was no genuine investigation done on the cause of the violence, adding that the decision was a "one man’s show".
“There is no difference between Salva Kiir and the decision made," he told Sudan Tribune, while directly referring to the result of the investigation by the justice minister.
Machar however welcomed the "overdue" release of the seven detainees but further demanded for the release of the four political leaders still in detention including former SPLM secretary-general Pagan Amum who was appointed chief negotiator of the SPLM-In –Opposition.
The released South Sudanese political leaders who remained in jail for more than a month arrived in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Wednesday and were hosted at the State House by the Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta.
Machar on the other hand dismissed the claim of the alleged coup, saying it was simply a ploy by Salva Kiir to try to silence his political opponents within the ruling party who were asking for political reforms.
The violence started when president Kiir allegedly ordered for the disarmament of the Nuer soldiers in his presidential guards division on Sunday, 15 December, prompting serious suspicions about his next move and the eruption of the fighting between the guards units along tribal lines at the military barrack.
The six-week conflict which quickly spread has led to the death of 10,000 and displacement of over 500,000 people across the country.
The two warring parties have signed a shaky ceasefire of which they accused each other of violating in less than 24 hours of its signing.
Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune that the released senior party leaders and former government officials are expected to participate during the resumption of the peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, from the 7th February "to represent the views of the SPLM/A In Opposition".
The two parties, he said, would now discuss the root causes of the conflict and how to resolve it.