September 29, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudanese government under the leadership of President Salva Kiir has slammed the former First Vice President, Riek Machar, for declaring resumption of armed struggle against the “regime” as an alternative action to bring true peace to the country.
President Kiir speaking through his spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, in a response statement on Thursday rejected the new position of the leader of the armed opposition faction of the SPLM-IO, saying there is no place in South Sudanese politics for those who wish to take part through the barrel of the gun.
“Riek Machar will never be a peacemaker. Indeed, he has a long history of turning to war to force his demands on the peoples of South Sudan,” said the presidential spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny,
Meanwhile Machar’s replacement, Taban Deng Gai, described the decision of his predecessor and the man on whose behalf he negotiated the August 2015 peace agreement to end the two years of violent conflict with the government as unacceptable. He asked the Sudanese government to “shut him up” and stop him from inciting violence.
Gai viewed himself as “a peace lover and described Machar as “a violent man.”
“Anybody who is a peace lover has a great future ahead of him, but Riek Machar has been a violent man from 1991, 1998, 2013, and 2016. I think he should have a new approach now. If he denounces violence and becomes a peaceful person like me, like Salva Kiir, there is a role for him," said Gai at a roundtable discussion hosted by the Council’s Africa Center in the United States.
He said the call to arms was “unacceptable” and urged Machar to remain in exile until when he can return as a peace lover to participate in elections, rather than pushing for violence as a way to bring peace.
Gai’s controversial ascendance to power in July is viewed by Machar’s supporters as a conspiracy between him and President Kiir to “cooperatively” dismantle the August 2015 peace deal which the president signed with a long list of reservations and warned of difficulty to implement it.
The opposition leader was pushed out from Juba in July during the renewed violence between his bodyguards and forces loyal to President Kiir.
He called for deployment of a third party force to Juba to provide protection or else wage an armed resistance to change the situation.