September 14, 2017 (JUBA) – A meeting of South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir and his first deputy the coalition government held on Thursday reportedly resolved that the exiled ex-first vice president, Riek Machar should not be allowed to return in his official capacity.
- President Salva Kiir addresses the nation at the South Sudan National Parliament in Juba, November 18, 2015. (Photo Reuters/Jok Solomon)
“The president of the republic, his Excellency, General Salva Kiir Mayardit and the first vice president, his Excellency General Taban Deng Gai met today and held a meeting on number of issues regarding peace, stability, unity, forgiveness and the reconciliation of the people of this country,” the minister for the presidency, Mayiik Ayiik Deng told Sudan Tribune.
The two leaders, he disclosed, also met to discuss and agreed on the kind of messages to be relayed before the United Nations General assembly meeting, which Gai will attend on behalf of government.
“So they [both leaders] agreed that the first vice president should carry the message of the commitment of the government to ending war and bringing peace to the country,” said Deng.
According to the official, Kiir and his first deputy stressed that the Juba government was not opposed to the return of Machar to the country as a private citizen.
The first vice president told reporters after the meeting that he went to brief President Kiir on the current activities of the faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition under him in the town of Pagak, as well as Central Upper Nile and Akobo States.
Gai further said the governor of Maiwut is currently in Pagak and that people are returning to their villages in those States, whilst the National Dialogue and preliminary grass root level discussions are taking place between the local communities.
He confirmed that he will be traveling to attend the UN General Assembly meeting in which he will address the international community in on the current peace process status in the country.
Gai said Machar has the right to return to the country because he was the citizen but he must denounce violence if he wants to return.
“If he wants to come, he can come. Nobody has a problem with his return after all he is the citizen of this country. What the people don’t want is his use of violence as the way to solve problems. People are telling him to denounce violence,” he stressed.
The former rebel chief negotiator urged Machar to put down his weapons and return to South Sudan to take part in the national dialogue.
“If he [Machar] has issues, he will raise them through the dialogue. Also if he wants to come back, people are saying he needs to come as a normal citizen because when he comes in official capacity, it becomes a disaster to the people and people do not want a repeat of the past”, he further stressed.
The South Sudanese civil war has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than two million people since it broke out following political disagreements in the country’s ruling party in December 2013.