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South Sudan Rebels to Seek Peace, Respond to US Sanctions

  • James Butty

South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar was photographed in a rebel controlled territory in Jonglei State, Feb. 1, 2014.

South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar was photographed in a rebel controlled territory in Jonglei State, Feb. 1, 2014.

South Sudan rebels said they have always been interested in bringing about a peaceful resolution to the their country’s conflict, which has killed thousands and displaced more than a million people.

SPLM in opposition spokesman Hussein Mar Nyuot said former Vice President Riek Machar will travel to Addis Ababa this week, after receiving an invitation from Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to meet with regional leaders and possibly South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.

The United States Tuesday announced financial sanctions on both government and rebel military commanders for "perpetrating unthinkable violence against civilians."

Nyuot said the rebels are studying the U.S. announcement.

“Actually, we have not received the statement officially. We’ve just heard it on the international media. When we get the full statement, we’ll see actually the background and the charges against our commander, Peter Gadet, and then from there actually we shall react officially,” he said.

In making the announcement, Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. was imposing financial penalties on Marial Chanuong, a government military commander and Gadet, a military leader loyal to Machar.

Nyuot said Machar will travel to Addis Ababa, after receiving an invitation from Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam.

“Doctor Machar will be coming to Addis Ababa," said Nyuot. "Already, we’ve received the invitation from the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. And, when he comes here, of course, he will have some meetings with the government here, starting with Prime Minister and some diplomats in the regions. And, I believe this meeting will be facilatated by the prime minister,” he said.

President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order in early April threatening sanctions on those impeding the peace process.

The conflict stems from a power dispute between Kiir and Machar that worsened in December. The two sides signed a cease-fire agreement in January, but fighting has continued.

On Monday, the sides signed an agreement to facilitate the delivery of aid to populations in need and to consider a "month of tranquility" so people can plant crops and care for livestock.

Nyuot says the rebels have been negotiating in good faith.

“Doctor Machar is always a steady person that he wants to bring peace to our country. He will talk with all firmness and honesty. And, definitely, we will hope that they will forge actually their way forward,” he said.

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