Rebel leader Riek Machar’s group asks why guarantors of peace deal are passive to situation in capital Juba
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Rebel leader Riek Machar’s office has strongly criticized the international community and guarantors of peace process for allegedly being passive to the political turmoil in the South Sudanese capital Juba.
The guarantors include Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and other African countries in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) trade bloc.
“There is a serious lack of support from the international community and the guarantors to the peace agreement,” Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) said in a statement Wednesday.
According to the statement, “the daily violation [of peace] by the government followed by illegal appointment of Taban Deng Gai resulted in the collapse of the peace agreement.”
Machar fled Juba in July and went into hiding after new clashes broke out between his forces and government soldiers, saying he would only return when third-party forces were deployed to act as a buffer.
On July 25, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir sacked Machar as first vice-president, replacing him with Gai. The move threatens to split the armed opposition into two factions: one backing Gai in Juba to support implementing peace implementation, and another faction that only recognizes Machar as the first vice-president according to the peace accord signed in August 2015.
East Africa’s eight-nation trade and security bloc IGAD is scheduled to meet in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa Friday to look into the crisis in South Sudan, which has been a growing concern for the region.
The latest statement comes after Kiir, acting on advice from his new vice president dismissed about half a dozen ministers representing the SPLM/A-IO.
On Monday, a prominent opposition figure who had held ministerial position in the Transitional Government of National Unity announced his resignation, saying the government in Juba was “dead”.
“We are not surprised by the steps being taken by President Kiir and Taban Deng changing IO ministerial position and Transitional Legislative Assembly,” the statement said.
“We are just waiting for the deployment of the regional force [a third-party intervention recommended by the IGAD and the UN] …so we can take further steps towards putting an end to the suffering of the people of South Sudan,” it added.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 following 50 years of Africa’s long-running civil war. Two years later the country slid back into chaos after Kiir accused his longtime rival Machar of a coup which resulted in the death of tens of thousands of people and displaced 2.4 million others.