August 1, 2014 (KAMPALA) – The South Sudanese ambassador to Uganda says it is not too late for rebel leader Riek Machar to negotiate with the government and accept a peaceful settlement to the crisis.
- South Sudan’s former vice-president turned rebel leader, Riek Machar, South Sudan’s rebel leader, Riek Machar, pictured in rebel-controlled territory in Jonglei state on 1 February 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
Ambassador Samuel Luate reiterated that a solution to South Sudan’s problems must come from within and not be imposed from the outside.
Luate cited peace talks between the government and David Yau Yau-led rebels in Jonglei state as an example that the South Sudanese people are capable of resolving their own internal problems.
“We have just made an agreement with David Yau Yau. This is a person who was also fighting South Sudan. David Yau Yau has come back home and he tell president Salva Kiir [that] ‘I have made a mistake. I’m here and I want to join the country,’” said Luate.
He urged Machar, who now heads the rebel faction of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), to reach a consensus with the government for the sake of peace so that the country could move forward and prosper.
“Tell the people of South Sudan that ‘brother and sisters, I made the mistake, I’m wrong, let us move ahead in this particular movement’. This is [as] simple as that,” said Luate.
Ambassador Luate said his government supported internal negotiations peace, saying mediation from outside was expensive and a waste of more resources.
“Come together and let us sit down and resolve this issue as brothers and sisters at home. We can solve that without mediators,” he said.
He said the government was now lobbying the international community for support to manage the peace process internally.
He urged faith-based groups and civil society organisations to push the rebel leader to accept a negotiated peace deal.
He also called on the international community to step up pressure on Machar to end the killings and unnecessary violence.
The ambassador further stressed that neither warring party would be a winner in the conflict, saying the only solution was to restore peace and bring lasting unity in the country through negotiation.
South Sudan has been locked in a bitter armed struggle since mid-December last year when a political rift in the SPLM turned violent.
The fighting has pitted government troops loyal to Kiir against pro-Machar rebels, killing thousands and displacing more than 1.3 million.
Ongoing peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and a January ceasefire deal signed by the rival parties has failed to halt the violence on the ground.