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S. Sudan armed opposition say "one sided" dialogue derails peace deal

May 23, 2017 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s armed opposition movement (SPLM-IO) faction led by the country’s former First Vice President, Riek Machar on Tuesday issued a cautious welcome to the unilateral ceasefire declaration President Salva Kiir made.

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South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar addresses a news conference in Uganda’s capital Kampala January 26, 2016 (Reuters photo)

The group, in statement with the signature of the armed opposition’s chairman of national committee for information and public relations, said the "one-sided", dialogue launched by the president was a campaign to "derail" the 2015 peace deal.

The national dialogue, Mabior Garang de Mabior, was meant to portray the opposition as an obstacle to peace and that the manner of its design lacks inclusivity.

“If President Salva Kiir and his allies are honest and the intention is to achieve national healing, reconciliation and forgiveness; then, the lack of inclusiveness and outright prejudice in the selection of the so called Steering Committee, will make the entire processes redundant,” said Mabior in a statement issued on Monday.

Garang, a former minister for water and irrigation in the coalition government, was reacting to remarks attributed to president Kiir at the swearing in of the dialogue committee members at which he welcomed participation of all opposition except Machar, claiming his return to participate in the dialogue would cause another war.

“Everybody is welcome to participate in the national dialogue except Riek Machar, because if he comes he will cause another war in Juba”, Kiir said on Monday.

The president’s remarks, however, sparked outcry from peace advocates and the opposition, questioning the credibility of the dialogue advocating no alternative views.

But Garang insisted that implementation of the 2015 peace deal will address issues to do with unequal distribution and mismanagement of resources in the country.

“The idea of replacing ARCSS (Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan) with this one-sided national dialogue will make the parties to the conflict more skeptical. And that will make the entire process as aforesaid insignificant,” explained Mabior.

The armed opposition faction welcomed and commended president Kiir for declaring a unilateral ceasefire in the country, saying it is the best approach to addressing political matters but cautioned its supporters to be vigilant, saying it could be a trick.

“This immense suffering is compounded by a complete breakdown of law, which is reflected by the regimes expansion of ethnic killings, denying access to humanitarian relief and even looting of humanitarian relief intended for vulnerable people, including killing of aid workers, which is exacerbating the famine in the country,” further stressed the SPLM-IO’s statement.

The national dialogue is both a forum and process through which South Sudanese shall gather to redefine the basis of their unity as it relates to nationhood, redefine citizenship and belonging, as well as restructure the state for national inclusion.

A 94-member steering committee for national dialogue was sworn in to start the work of bringing harmony and peace to the people of South Sudan. The committee co-chaired by Abel Alier and Angelo Beda Bangboru comprises of distinguished members of the country including religious leaders, professionals and politicians.

(ST)