August 22, 2016 (JUBA) – Official spokesman for former First Vice President, Riek Machar, has dismissed accusations against his boss as “thoughtless”, saying Machar had never initiated violence. He said President Salva Kiir has been responsible for the wars in the country and should therefore be the one to be told to denounce violence.
- James Gatdet Dak, Riek Machar’s spokesperson ’Reuters photo)
South Sudanese Minister of Information, Michael Makuei Lueth, over the weekend accused Machar of inciting the recent violence and called on him to denounce it if he wanted to return to the country after he was dislodged from the capital, Juba, by President Kiir’s forces.
“If Riek Machar wants to come back to South Sudan, then he should denounce violence," Lueth told the state-owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC) TV on Saturday.
James Gatdet Dak, opposition leader’s spokesman however said the two violent incidents on 15 December 2013 and 8 July 2016 were started by President Kiir and his inner circles with the aim to eliminate his deputy, Machar.
“It is thoughtless and nonsensical to accuse him [Machar] of the violence he never initiated. A false coup was stage-managed by Salva Kiir on 15 December 2013 with the aim to kill Dr. Riek Machar. His house was bombed that year to eliminate him. Again on 8 July 2016 he was lured to the palace in order to get killed. He narrowly escaped again after majority of his bodyguards were killed at the palace. He was followed to his residence and his house was also bombed with tanks and helicopter gunships in another attempt to kill him. He again escaped and was followed into the bushes until he fled to a foreign country. Why should the victim of attempted assassinations be instead blamed for the violence against him? It is insensitive,” Dak told Sudan Tribune.
“The perpetrator [Kiir] who wanted him [Machar] murdered twice is the one to be asked to denounce the violence,” he said.
He also dismissed the calls on Machar to abandon politics at home or stay in exile, saying such comments by President Kiir’s officials “are anti-democracy and against his human and constitutional rights in the country.”
“Let them read the constitution and let them also read and digest the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan. It seems they are oblivious,” Dak challenged.
He argued that Machar, like any other citizen or politician in South Sudan, has the right to pursue politics in order to apply his vision for the welfare of the people of the nation.
Dak also said President Kiir and his “friend” Taban Deng Gai, should stop misleading the world that the “illegal” action to replace Machar was an internal process of the opposition faction of the SPLM-IO, saying there was no process done, but a conspiracy involving a handful of officials and it was therefore a violation of the peace agreement.
He said Machar remains the First Vice President of the country. He also warned of the total collapse of the August 2015 peace deal should the government not abide by IGAD resolution which expects Gai to step down and for a third party force to be deployed to secure the capital, Juba, before Machar’s return.
He warned that the opposition faction led by Machar may be forced to explore other options to correct the situation should the peace agreement collapse.