April 13, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan rebels led by the former vice-president Riek Machar have denied rumours hinting that they rejected a proposal for an interim government in South Sudan made by the mediators of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
- A member of South Sudan’s rebel SPLM-In-Opposition patrols the streets of Upper Nile state capital Malakal, on 4 March 2014 (Photo: AFP /Andrei Pungovschi)
The rebels said they agreed to the proposal in principle but added that core issues about the nature of the state had to be addressed prior to the formation of an interim government.
"We are not opposed to the proposed interim government in South Sudan. Our leadership is very clear about this. We are however saying it shouldn’t just be an interim government per se," said Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune.
The rebels’ leadership, he said, prioritized agreeing on the future of the state; restructuring it in an inclusive process that would involve various stakeholders before forming an interim government.
"This is about the constitution. It is about how the country shall be governed. Should we go federal, etc?" he stressed.
Dak further claimed that the process necessitated stepping down of President Salva Kiir in order to pave way for a genuine democratic process.
"He [Kiir] has failed the country in many ways and plunged it into the current crisis we are in. We shouldn’t expect him to lead or become part of this overhauling process because he doesn’t believe in it; hence he doesn’t have the political will to do it", he said.
The rebel spokesperson however said the opposition was equally cautious not to allow "another potential dictator" to sneak in to lead the interim government, frustrate the process and put the country further into a similar future crisis.
He was directly referring to the proposal that a neutral personality takes charge of the country during the interim government.
He also criticised those who suggested that Machar should also step aside and not take part in the interim government, saying the former vice-president had done nothing wrong to deserve the similar treatment as President Kiir.
Machar, he said, had to run for his life from the "dictator in Juba" who vowed to eliminate him simply because he was calling for democratic reform in the ruling party and government, further arguing that the current rebellion the ex-vice president happened to lead was imposed on him and the people by President Kiir.