July 9, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan’s former vice-president, Riek Machar, who leads a resistance movement against the government of president Salva Kiir, has congratulated the people of South Sudan on the third anniversary of the country’s independence, adding that celebrations were “not joyous” due to the ongoing seven-month-long conflict in the young nation.
- South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar gives a press conference in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 12 May 2014 (Photo: AFP/Zacharias Abubeker)
He accused president Kiir of plunging the country into “abyss” while expressing his desire that the next fourth anniversary celebration will likely be conducted in “a peaceful federal state” of South Sudan.
The armed opposition leader decried what he said were the repeated “ills" which the people of South Sudan fought against for the decades, coupled with the presence of foreign troops and mercenaries which have “undermined the hard earned sovereignty of the country”.
In a press statement he issued on Wednesday, a copy of which Sudan Tribune obtained, Machar accused Kiir of putting his energy on establishing a dictatorship rather than developing the young nation, describing him as “visionless.”
“In the last three years of our independence, Salva kiir used state power and resources to establish dictatorship and pushed the country into what has become a civil war. His visionless leadership is endangering the very future of our country. Our country witnessed nothing but dictatorship, anarchy, corruption, tribalism and lack of development and service delivery,” Machar said in a statement at a press conference in Addis Ababa on Wednesday.
“South Sudan is now ranked a failed state,” he said.
He further accused his former colleague of fabricating a coup on 15 December in order to do away with his political opponents, adding that the “dictator” has now further unleashed his security operatives to ‘target citizens of South Sudan who express their views on federalism in order to assert his rule.”
The regime in Juba, he lamented, has divided the country and created ethnic animosity, suspicion and distrust as well as economic marginalization of the majority of South Sudanese people.
He however reassured the commitment by the opposition to “a process of reconciliation, healing and accountability in order to foster the unity of the people and preserve the territorial integrity of the country.”
THE WAY FORWARD
The rebel leader further expressed his appreciation to the IGAD countries, friends in the regional countries and international partners for supporting the peace process, calling on the IGAD mediation team to resume the stalled peace talks in Addis Ababa and “review the selection of the stakeholders so that it is transparent, representative and inclusive.”
He also expressed recognition of the “great work done and role played’ by United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) under the leadership of the outgoing Hilde Johnson in protecting the lives of the people of South Sudan in UNMISS camps.
Machar vowed to restructure the young nation into a federal state, saying he envisioned a state in which “never again shall a dictator be allowed to thrive nor take the country to a civil war or target any ethnic group.”
He called on the South Sudanese to join the resistance movement and change the status quo.
“We encourage all South Sudanese to join in the struggle for the transformation and establishment of a democratic federal state. We regret that we are celebrating the third anniversary under the tyranny of Salva kiir. However, it is our desire that we will all celebrate the fourth anniversary in a peaceful federal state,” he said.