November 20, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudan President Salva Kiir said amnesty will not be granted to his political rival-turned rebel leader, Riek Machar, unless he denounces violence.
“My brother Riek Machar thinks the only way for him to become the president of this country is violence, killing innocent people. I told him several times [that] there is no reason to fight. If you [Machar] wants to be the president, wait for elections, but he did not listen”, Kiir said on Sunday.
The South Sudanese leader said a number of people approached him demanding that he pardons the armed opposition leader when he returns.
“They come asking me to pardon him. I tell them I have no problem with him. He is a citizen of this country and he can return anytime, but must denounce violence”, he said.
President Kiir had met Dinka elders who briefed him on their activities after they visited their counterparts from Equatoria and Nuer territories.
The president had earlier granted amnesty to 750 troops loyal to his main political rival and the country’s former First Vice-President.
Those pardoned crossed in to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo when fighting erupted in the capital, Juba in July this year.
Local media reports had quoted the South Sudanese Defence Minister Kuol Manyang saying the Juba regime was ready to welcome the armed opposition forces in refugee camps in Congo.
A team, he said, would be sent to convey the amnesty message to the rebels, whose leader declared armed resistance against Kiir.
Violence broke out in South Sudan’s capital in July when the two rival forces clashed, leaving hundreds dead and thousands displaced.
Manyang said Machar, who is currently in South Africa, would have to denounce violence before he is allowed to return into South Sudan.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced since conflict erupted between the main rival factions in December 2013.