December 24, 2016 (JUBA) - The former First Vice President and leader of SPLM-IO, Riek Machar, has called on the International Community and the African Union to launch a new political process to review the agreement of 2015 and brushed aside a call for national dialogue by President Salva Kiir.
- South Sudan President Salva Kiir (C) poses for a picture after the government swearing in with his first deputy Riek Machar (R) and second deputy James Wani on 29 April 2016 (Photo Moses Lomayat)
In a Christmas Message to South Sudanese extended to Sudan Tribune on Saturday, Machar said hopes for peace "evaporated" with the 8 July clashes at the State House and accused the government forces of "committing acts of genocide" in the country.
However he rejected the call for national dialogue made by President Kiir on 14 December, describing it as an attempt to divert attention from the "ongoing genocide aganist the people of South Sudan, particularly in Greater Equatoria Western Bagr el-Ghazal abd Unity Stat"
Instead Machar has urged "the (African Union) AU and the international community to support a new political process to end the war and stop the genocide from intensifying".
"The priority should be to end the war and that can only be achieved through a political process where by the Agreement can be reviewed," he said, adding "The revived agreement would provide the roadmap for a national dialogue to be conducted in a stable peaceful environment".
The 14 December call for a national dialogue has been criticized by opposition leaders who questioned its seriousness and viability.
Lam Akol, chairman of the National Democratic Movement for Inclusive Dialogue, called to hold a new inclusive political process outside South Sudan that will provide a forum for all to thrash out the root causes of the conflict and agree on the future of the country.
The South Sudanese President Kiir on 20 December appointed 30 national figures as members of a dialogue committee that he chairs.
In addition, Kiir appointed as his advisers Abel Alier-wal Kwai, Joseph Lagu, Bona Malual Madut and Francis Mading Deng.
But the dialogue body does not include representatives of the SPLM-IO or sympathizers to the former first vice-president.
The "National dialogue in my view is both a forum and process through which the people of South Sudan can gather to redefine the basis of their unity as it relates to nationhood, and sense of belonging," said President Kiir when he announced his process on 14 December.