February 4, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s vice-president, James Wani Igga, said the government will not accept demands by anti-government forces for president Salva Kiir to resign head of elections, scheduled to take place in 2015.
- Vice-president James Wani Igga (C) addressing South Sudanese in New York (Photo: Larco Lomayat)
"Here is an elected government," Igga told reporters in Juba on his return from Ethiopia where he attended an African Union summit.
"If […] anybody dreams at night and gets up in the morning and said you the elected government must move aside, I think we will be unstable,” he added.
Riek Machar, the leader of anti-government armed group calling itself SPLM/A in Opposition, demands Kiir resign as a condition for reaching comprehensive peace agreement with government.
"We are not going to accept that," said Igga in response to Machar demands.
Talks between the two sides are due to resume on Friday.
Kiir accuses Machar and his supporters of attempting overthrow him in a coup on December 15 when fighting broke out between soldiers from the presidential guard.
Machar has denied the accusation, saying it was the regime’s tactic to suppress opposition within the party. Some senior figures, including Machar had wanted to challenge Kiir for the position of SPLM chairperson, which would put the winner in prime position to contest and win 2015 presidential elections.
Three days before the start of the conflict, Machar, and other critics of Kiir postponed their plans to hold a protest rally against the president ’s leadership and administrative issues that need to be resolved in order for the party to be officially registered.
The rally was postponed as a meeting of the SPLM’s highest decision-making body, the National Liberation Council (NLC), which is composed of around 150 members, was announced on December 12 to discuss the party’s leadership issues, the constitution, and codes of conduct.
Over the next two days the NLC failed to either approve the party’s draft documents, including the constitution, in their current form, or to reach an agreement to amend the existing documents.
The NLC meeting reconvenes on December 15. According to some accounts, Kiir ordered Major General Marial Ciennoung, a commander of the presidential guards, to disarm members of the unit at the main barracks in the capital, Bilpam.
The Dinka elements, it is alleged were immediately and secretly re-armed, but their Nuer counterparts were not and fighting broke out between the two groups after the Nuer soldiers forcibly rearmed themselves. Kiir and the government refute this version of events.
The violence, which started in Juba, quickly spread to Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states where large sections of the army defected along political and sometimes tribal lines.
Both sides have been accused of abusing civilians and much of the fighting has been along ethnic lines, despite the political roots of crisis.
The United Nations estimate that over a million people have been displaced in the six-week-conflict. Figures the number of dead vary, but the International Crisis Group have suggested that around 10,000 people have been killed.