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South Sudanese president conditions rival Machar’s return

South Sudan President Salva Kiir (C) adresses a press conference together with FVP Riek Machar (R) and SVP James Wani at the State House on July 8, 2016 (Reuters Photo)

October 15, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s armed opposition leader, Riek Machar would only be allowed into the young nation if he denounces violence and allows the coalition government to implement the 2015 peace agreement, President Salva Kiir has said.

“The region should stand with the transitional government of national unity to implement the agreement on the resolution of the conflict in the republic of South Sudan. This was the agreement they [regional leaders and friends] made themselves despite our observations but we accepted because we wanted peace and stability in this country," said Kiir in the capital, Juba Saturday.

He added, "And I believe the events of July should themselves be proof of concerns which South Sudanese were raising. If they want this agreement to be implemented, they should allow the current first vice president and his team to work with me and other leaders ready to cooperate to implement this agreement."

The South Sudanese leader was speaking at an occasion he hosted at his residence. A number of with senior cabinet members, security and high-ranking military officers attended the event, a few days after rumour spread that the president had "died".

Kiir said Machar should denounce violence and remain outside the country during transitional national unity government era or return to South Sudan as a normal citizen.

“The President of the Republic and the government is very clear on the implementation of the peace agreement. But what is important in anything is building mutual trust and understanding. Riek Machar was acting like a co-president to President Salva Kiir. He was not acting like a vice president", the presidential advisor on decentralization and intergovernmental linkage, Tor Deng Mawien exclusively told Sudan Tribune Saturday.

"So it was difficult to proceed with the implementation of the peace agreement in this environment. That was there was no progress but now the new SPLM-IO leadership under Taban Deng Gai is doing well and the president should be allowed to implement the agreement," he added.

Machar left Juba after renewed clashes in July between his forces and those of President Kiir claimed over 300 lives and led to the fighters loyal to the former rebel leader fleeing the city. The fighting has resulted in a humanitarian crisis with people abandoning the city for fear of a return to war.

President Kiir relieved Machar of his post as vice president and appointed the armed opposition’s former chief negotiator, Taban Deng Gai as first vice president in the interim government. Machar has, however, described Gai’s appointment as "illegal".

The armed opposition group recently announced that it had officially dismissed all its senior members who have taken part in President Kiir’s new government.

This came in a resolution passed by the political bureau meeting convened for three days in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, under the chairmanship of Machar.

In Article 2 (d) of the resolution, the armed opposition’s political bureau resolved to “Call for reorganization of the SPLA (IO) so that it can wage a popular armed resistance against the authoritarian and fascist regime of President Salva Kiir in order to bring peace, freedom, democracy and the rule of law in the country.”

The opposition group called for rapid deployment of regional forces in order to salvage the peace agreement signed in August 2015.

(ST)