August 21, 2016 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese government has urged the country’s former first vice-president, Riek Machar to denounce violence and rebellion, before returning to the country’s capital, Juba or else stay away from active politics.
- Riek Machar sits in his field office in a rebel controlled territory in Jonglei State February 1, 2014. (Photo/Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)
“If Riek Machar wants to come back to South Sudan, then he should denounce violence," information minister, Michael Makeui Lueth told the state-owned SSBC TV on Saturday.
The minister, also the government spokesperson, blamed the armed opposition leader for allegedly triggering the outbreak of fighting between the rival factions last month.
At least 270 soldiers were killed when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir clashed with those allied to Machar in the country’s capital, before a ceasefire was declared days later.
"It is his [Machar’s] coming here [Juba] which created this violence. So he should denounce violence so that we do not go back to war," said Makuei.
Machar fled Juba last month and is in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), sources say. Although regional bloc (IGAD) still recognised Machar as the legitimate first vice president, Makuei says that decision be made by the armed opposition members.
“The IGAD has no right to impose Riek Machar on the movement. When Riek Machar was elected, it was not IGAD that brought him to lead that movement called the SPLM IO, it is the people who elected him," said the minister.
A faction of the armed opposition faction (SPLM-IO) in Juba nominated Taban Deng Gai, a former chief negotiator to replace Machar in July, but his appointment was described as "illegal" by Machar’s supporters and regional leaders.