August 14, 2014 (KAMPALA) – South Sudanese rebels leader Riek Machar says president Salva Kiir has lost all creditability to lead a transitional government of national unity, accusing him of being liable for the killing of civilians at the genesis of the country’s crisis.
Machar told China’s Talk Africa on Thursday that he doubted whether the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is facilitating peace talks between the two warring parties, would be able to deliver a lasting political settlement.
“The mediation group set 10 August to be [the] deadline for peace talks, but [you can] see now they have pushed another time for mediation. To me I do not see any peace to be achieved because of the weakness of IGAD mediators,” the former vice-president said.
He also said it would be hard to achieve a final peace deal with president Kiir due to his alleged role in the deaths of up to 20,000 civilians in the capital, Juba.
In his interview for China’s CCTV broadcast in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, Machar said IGAD countries should have applied more pressure on the government to restore peace in the young nation.
“It is hard to leave out the root causes of [the] crisis and the recent wound created by president Kiir himself for ordering [the] killing of thousands of people in the national capital, Juba,” said Machar.
Machar denied that he was an obstacle to peace, blaming the Kiir administration’s rigid approach to negotiations for stalling the peace process.
Echoing recent comments while a visit to Khartoum, Machar said Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya remained the most legitimate and trusted IGAD countries, adding that they could potentially play an important role in resolving the crisis in South Sudan.
Machar stressed that the root cause of the conflicts and the killing of innocent civilians in Juba must be addressed by IGAD mediators in order for national reconciliation to move forward, calling for fresh elections in the country.
The rebel leader said Kiir had lost the respect of the people due to his role in inciting the killing of civilians and that he had no programme to unify the country.
“People will contest, a new president will come. It could be me or somebody else in [a] democratic election. What would Salva [Kiir] present to the people as the programme to unite the people? He committed genocide, he committed mass killing – what programme would he talk about? Nothing,” he said.
Pro-Machar rebels and troops loyal to the government have been engaged in an armed struggle since conflict erupted in the country in mid-December last year following a political rift in the country’s ruling party (SPLM).
Thousands have been forced to seek refuge in UN camps, while many more have fled to neighbouring countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda.
Some 1.3 million people in some of the worst conflict-affected area are facing food insecurity as aid agencies warn of a looming humanitarian catastrophe.
On a recent visit to the country, the UN Security Council (UNSC) condemned the ongoing conflict, warning both warring parties to fully engage in dialogue or face serious consequences.