Kiir not opposed to Machar’s participation in peace revitalization forum: official

December 7, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudan president, Salva Kiir is not opposed to his main political rival and former first vice president, Riek Machar’s participation in the revitalization forum, an aide clarified.

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South Sudan’s opposition leader Riek Machar speaks during a briefing in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa April 9, 2016 (Photo Reuters/ Tiksa Negeri)

Daniel Awet Akot, Kiir’s advisor on military affairs, said the president is committed to bringing peace and ending the country’s civil war.

“Because of his [Kiir] desire to stop the war, he has had to undertake numerous initiatives. He has declared unilateral ceasefire and released political prisoners, launched national dialogue; commit himself to reunification of the SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] and accept to participate in the IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] proposed revitalization forum without conditions, presidential adviser on military affairs”, he told Sudan Tribune Thursday.

Awet, a senior member of the ruling party’s political bureau, also cited President Kiir’s recent directives, which called for unhindered movement of humanitarian organisations to conflict areas, as a demonstration of his commitment to remove obstacles to peace.

“If there are people who think president Kiir is opposed to the participation of Riek Machar in the revitalization, let them tell you where he said it and to whom. For me, I am not aware”, he said.

Although the Juba government says it accepts Machar’s participation in the revitalization forum, it is still unclear if the rebel leader will attend launch scheduled for 15 December in Ethiopia.

Government and opposition sources, in a series of interviews, said discussions were undergoing at higher levels to resolve how Machar will participate in the process.

Analysts say Machar participation at the forum in person is a divisive matter and this issue has been left to the IGAD heads of state to decide. Heads of states, they say, will either allow the rebel leader go to Ethiopia for the launch and participate in the revitalization like any other stakeholders and return to South Africa where he has been placed under house arrest for months or allow him stay in Ethiopia.

“This option is possible, the other option is to allow him choose his representatives and can participate in the revitalization forum through them,” a source with direct knowledge of out of public discussions on the matter, told Sudan Tribune Thursday.

“These options are the subject of the discussions at higher levels. The foreign ministers are now briefing their individual heads of state and getting responses”, he stressed.

In June, a summit of IGAD heads of state and government decided to convene a meeting of the signatories of the South Sudan peace agreement to discuss ways to revitalize the peace implementation. During the June summit, it was agreed that all groups be included in the discussion aimed at restoring a permanent ceasefire.

IGAD unveiled the timetable for the revitalization forum with South Sudanese leaders and the citizens, which ended on 17 October.

The South Sudanese government earlier warned that the revitalization forum by the regional bloc, which mediated the 2015 peace deal, should not be another platform for negotiations of the peace accord between the two factions to the conflict.

Over a million people have fled South Sudan since conflict erupted in December 2013 when President Kiir sacked Machar from the vice-presidency. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million displaced in South Sudan’s worst violence since it seceded from Sudan in July 2011.

(ST)