October 13, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudanese armed opposition faction led by the controversially ousted former First Vice President, Riek Machar, said they blamed the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Union (AU) and the international community at large for condoning or allowing President Salva Kiir to violate the August 2015 peace agreement under their watchful eyes.
- South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar looks on during an interview at his residence on August 31, 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Photo AFP /Zacharias Abubeker)
“You know IGAD-Pus, which includes bloc representatives from the rest of the African Union, the Troika (US, UK, Norway), China and the United Nations were the ones that cooked the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS). They told Dr. Riek Machar and his officials to return to Juba despite an improper security arrangement for his protection in Juba. But when President Kiir’s forces attacked him by killing majority of his bodyguards at the Republic Palace on 8 July with an attempt to assassinate him, the IGAD, the international community was dumbfounded,” James Gatdet Dak, opposition leader’s spokesman, told Sudan Tribune on Thursday.
He added that two days later President Kiir allegedly ordered his forces, tanks and helicopter gunships to attack Machar’s residence which forced him out of the capital.
“Two days later on 10 July President Kiir ordered his forces, with tanks and helicopter gunships to attack Dr. Riek Machar’s residence and base and chased him out of Juba into the bushes and hunted him down for 5 weeks until he crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo, yet nobody in the region told Kiir to stop what he was doing while they were simply watching the show in silence,” he challenged.
Dak said maybe some in the region wrongly thought that for President Kiir to kill his rival and peace partner, Machar, this would have been “another African solution to an African problem” to end the rivalry between the two top leaders. He however said it would have instead resulted to uncontrollable violence across the country.
He blamed IGAD for forcing Machar to return to Juba with only a small number of troops which he said “attracted” President Kiir to attempt to renew the war in the capital without thinking about repercussion.
He also said the region could not come to rescue Machar and to stop Kiir from violating the peace agreement, including illegally replacing him.
Dak also added that even after 8 July violence which has resulted to the collapse of the peace agreement and the dismantling of the transitional government of national unity, the region or the international community at large has not come out with an initiative to revive the peace deal and have instead continued to receive leaders who replaced Machar illegally and helped in collapsing the peace deal.
The revelation by President Kiir’s top commander in the oil rich Unity state that the government had long time ago planned to assassinate SPLM-IO leaders on their return to Juba, he said, clearly indicated that the 8 July incident at the palace was an execution of that plan.
Dak was referring to the resignation of the government army’s deputy chief of general staff for moral orientation, Lt. Gen. Bapiny Minytuil Wicjang, who exposed in a letter how his former government was planning to abrogate the peace agreement and to assassinate leaders.
In a 5-page letter directed to President Kiir, General Bapiny, who was a close insider and former ally to President Kiir, revealed in a complaint how the government planned to violate the ceasefire agreement with Machar’s faction.
Dak said the international community should stop to balance accusations and should rather hold responsible President Kiir’s regime for violating the peace deal and renewing the war in the country, adding that even the leaked United Nations report has clearly indicated that Kiir and his army’s chief of general staff, Paul Malong Awan, ordered the resumption of the fighting in Juba.
He added that the SPLM-IO under the leadership of Machar has not “declared war” but has the right to self-defence in form of an armed resistance against the regime in Juba should the region fail to resuscitate the peace agreement while President Kiir’s forces continue to attack their positions across the country.
“You should not equally blame the victim for resisting attacks, you should rather hold responsible the perpetrator who has continued to attack our forces and positions across the country,” he said.
He added that in the recent resolution of the SPLM’s politburo meeting, they have asked for the peace agreement to be resuscitated by deploying regional troops to Juba, demilitarize Juba in accordance with the peace deal, the new illegal first vice president to step down and to review the security arrangements involving the two parties.
“Unfortunately, nobody in the international community has responded to our positive demands to save the peace agreement. Instead, they seem to be condoning the violations and the attacks on our forces and expect us not to stage a resistance. This is not fair,” he said.