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Sudan Tribune

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S. Sudan national dialogue body denies blocking Machar

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

June 12, 2017 (JUBA) – The South Sudan national dialogue committee, Monday has denied backing efforts aimed at blocking the return of the exiled rebel leader, Riek Machar, and preventing his participation in the political process.

The dialogue body in a statement released to the public described as misleading media reports claiming that Angelo Beda, co-chair of the dialogue committee was backing efforts aimed at denying the return of Machar to participate in the process.

The statement further claimed that the committee was exerting efforts to persuade President Kiir to allow the return of Machar as a normal citizen.

President Kiir and government officials say they prefer for the time being to keep the former first vice president in his forced exile and support the idea the main rebel group join the dialogue in order to make it inclusive and successful.

“The President does not intend to block Dr Riek Machar from participation in the National Dialogue since he has already welcomed the participation of Machar’s delegation,” said the statement pointing that the insistence of the rebel leader on the “Armed Resistance”, contradicts the basic principles of a peaceful dialogue.

“Thus, If Dr Machar is for peace and stability of the country, he can accept the proposal for non-violence and peaceful resolution of the conflict through a credible and transparent National Dialogue (ND) and such a gesture would be highly appreciated by everyone and therefore, he would be most welcome to participate in the ND,” further reads the statement.

The SPLM-IO insists on the need to hold talks between the two main warring parties to reinvigorate the 2015 peace agreement and reactivate the security arrangements including the ceasefire. The presence of the SPLM-IO faction led by Taban Deng Gai in the transitional government seemingly represents an obstacle that Machar factions intends to clear before to go to the political process.

However, the committee explained that the national dialogue initiative is both a forum and process through which the people of South Sudan shall gather to address the root causes of their conflict, redefine the basis of their unity as it relates to nationhood, citizenship and belonging, as well as the restructure of the state institutions for national inclusion and stability.

The key objective is to end the conflict and usher a new era of sustainable peace, reconciliation and to prepare for a national election, the committee emphasised.

Angelo Beda, according to the statement, said that the declared unilateral ceasefire and the release of political prisoners by the President as well as other gestures of good will were significant positive steps taken to build confidence and create a conducive environment for the National Dialogue.

“In this respect, Dr Riek Machar is equally expected to take a gesture of goodwill by reviewing his earlier declaration of “armed resistance” made in Khartoum,” it further stated.

The national dialogue, which was officially launched by President Kiir last month, is both a forum and process through which the people of South Sudan shall gather to address the root causes of their conflict, redefine the basis of their unity as it relates to nationhood, citizenship and belonging, as well as the restructure of the state institutions for national inclusion and stability.

Since mid-December 2013, tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced in South Sudan’s worst ever violence during its post-independence period.

(ST)