January 22, 2018 (JUBA) – South Sudan President, Salva Kiir has said former vice-president-turned rebel leader, Riek Machar is only interested in power, not processes to reunify various factions of the ruling party (SPLM).
Kiir made the remarks at a meeting with the chairperson of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), Cyril Ramaphosa.
“You know very well we accepted the role and ANC leadership particularly yourself played in reunification process. You remember coming here to consult with you [Ramaphosa] and President Jacob Zuma to help us sort our differences with other comrades. These efforts in which you played a vital role culminated into the Arusha reunification agreement and I was there myself,” Kiir said Sunday.
“The process of reunification was to be completed in Juba. Others like Pagan Amum, who was the Secretary General [of the SPLM] went to Juba and he became part of one SPLM, but when the peace was about to be signed in 2015, he left Juba and became one of the groups we have agreed to abandon all the different factions and camps that came to exist because of the differences we have resolved through reunification and he signed the peace agreement. And then he never returned to the country,” he added.
Kiir accused Machar, who lives in exile in South Africa, of being behind the outbreak of the violence in the capital, Juba in July 2016.
“After July events, we continued and involved President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Egyptian president, Abdel Fatteh el Sisi, but our brothers, especially brother Riek continued to show no interest in the reunification [of the SPLM],” explained Kiir.
“This has encouraged others like the former [political] detainees outside the country and [are] continuing to make demands as a condition for reunification”, he added.
According Kiir, the group allied to former rebel chief negotiator, now the first vice-president, Taban Deng GaiVand some members of the ex-detainees in the coalition government are ready to start implementation of the SPLM reunification process and move forward.
“A working group has already been formed to work out modalities of implementing the Arusha reunification and this process will proceed because people believe unity of the SPLM is very important because this was the crisis started. Those interested in power like brother Riek, the process can’t be held. It will have to proceed,” stressed Kiir.
He added, “If they are interested, they should join [the reunification process] without making other conditions”.
The South Sudanese leader told Ramaphosa that he had to travel to Kampala, Uganda in 2017 with the hope that Machar would participate in the process facilitated by Museveni, but he failed either to send a representative and travelled in person to attend it.
However, Machar has repeatedly refuted the allegation, citing his detention as having not allowed him to move freely without being released and the need to end the war a primary objective as the war has now engulfed the country and beyond SPLM differences.
In January 2015, delegates from three factions of the SPLM party signed a 12-page agreement in Arusha, Tanzania, laying out key steps toward reunifying the party.
The faction loyal to President Kiir, the SPLM-in-Opposition led by former First Vice President, Riek Machar, and a third made up of party officials detained when the conflict began in December 2013, signed the accord.
The SPLM was initially founded as the political wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). The party, in the aftermath of the civil war that broke out in the country in mid-December 2013, split into the SPLM-Juba faction headed by Kiir, SPLM-IO led by Machar and that of the former political detainees.