Riek Machar, the chairman and commander in chief of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Army SPLMA/SPLA (IO) has rebuffed a call to join the ongoing South Sudan National Dialogue.
The South Sudan opposition leader said focus should be on ending the war, through a mediated peace process. He said his group’s priority is ending the war that is ravaging the country and has created a refugee problem in the region.
“I am writing in response to your request for appointment for your team to discuss with me pertinent matters relating to National Dialogue,” Machar wrote to the co-chair of the national dialogue in Juba, Abel Alier.
“As much as we believe national dialogue is an important process for the people for South Sudan to engage in, however, it is our considered opinion that the priority is to end the raging genocidal war in the country that has created displacement of over 2 million people internally and 2.5 million people as refugees in the neighbouring countries,” Machar said.
“As such our efforts are focused to search for sustainable peace through a mediated peace process to end the war rather than national dialogue,” Machar concluded.
Machar was Vice-President in December 2016 when war broke out in the capital, with forces loyal to President Salva Kiir driving his troops out of the capital into north of the country, and into DRC.
South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation gripped by civil war, this week cancelled its official independence day celebrations for the second year running.
“We are not celebrating… because our situation does not require us to celebrate at a time when there are people in need of these funds,” explained government spokesman Michael Makuei of the cancellation.
South Sudan split with Sudan on July 9, 2011 but has been engulfed by civil war since 2013.
Violence and subsequent famine have killed tens of thousands and forced 3.7 million people from their homes.
Its oil-dependant economy is on the brink of collapse, with inflation spiralling to over 800 percent this year.
Last year’s independence day celebrations were also cancelled due to violent clashes in Juba between the forces of President Kiir and those loyal to former deputy Machar.
Machar Vs National dialogue 🇸🇸 pic.twitter.com/h4xDl8K4hc
— Denis Dumo (@DenisDumo) June 26, 2017