News / Africa

    Machar Says He Wants to Bring Democracy, Equality to South Sudan

    South Sudan's opposition leader Riek Machar speaks to rebel General Peter Gatdet Yaka (not seen) in  rebel-controlled territory on Feb. 1, 2014.
    South Sudan's opposition leader Riek Machar speaks to rebel General Peter Gatdet Yaka (not seen) in rebel-controlled territory on Feb. 1, 2014.
    John Tanza
    Former South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar says his newly created SPLM/SPLA resistance movement will work to move the young country to democracy and equality.

    The movement would "dedicate our time to the liberation of South Sudan so that we have a democratic, peaceful, prosperous natIon where elections would not be rigged, where people would not be intimidated, where there would be no one group trying to control others," he told VOA in a telephone interview from an undisclosed location.

    "South Sudan needs to be liberated from the current dictatorship being established by Salva Kiir," Machar said, reiterating an accusation he made last year when he was removed from office in a cabinet reshuffle.



    Machar accused Kiir of having "dictatorial tendencies" after the vice president and the rest of the presidential cabinet were fired in July.

    Barnaba Marial Benjamin, who was then South Sudan’s Minister of Information and government spokesman, said at the time of the reshuffle that Kiir acted within the constitution.

    Marial, who was re-appointed to the government, where he currently serves as foreign affairs minister, also said it was likely the restructuring of the government would generate heated debate within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

    Even after his firing, Machar remained a high-ranking member of the SPLM, which is currently the only viable party in South Sudan. While many other parties exist, most have tiny membership numbers.

    In his interview with VOA, Machar said creating a multi-party system would be a key step towards installing a democratic system of government in South Sudan.

    "I want the international community and the people of the region and our own country to understand that for this country to be viable, it must be committed to democratic multipartism. It must be a country where good governance prevails, a country where there is tolerance," Machar said.

    "It must be a country where everyone has a share of the national cake, where one ethnic group does not try to impose its will on others," Machar said.


    South Sudan's ambassador to the U.S., John Akec Khoc, in an interview last week with VOA rejected Machar's accusation's that Kiir's government is undemocratic.

    Instead, Khoc said, Kiir is known for being inclusive, and gave the example of the president's successful effort to bring former rebel fighters into South Sudan's army.

    Machar's successor to the vice presidency, James Wani Igga, accepted VOA's request for an interview to allow the government to respond directly to Machar's accusations, but canceled early last week.

    VOA is trying to reschedule the interview with Igga or another high-ranking member of Kiir's government.

    Machar has given two interviews to VOA, both from undisclosed locations since unrest erupted in South Sudan in December. The former vice president has been in hiding since mid-December when South Sudan plunged into violence that Kiir said was triggered by a failed coup led by Machar and other disgruntled SPLM members.

    Staff open the doors of the morgue at the teaching hospital to add another body to the 24 already there, 20 of whom were killed from violence according to the staff, in Malakal, Upper Nile State, in South Sudan Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014Staff open the doors of the morgue at the teaching hospital to add another body to the 24 already there, 20 of whom were killed from violence according to the staff, in Malakal, Upper Nile State, in South Sudan Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014
    x
    Staff open the doors of the morgue at the teaching hospital to add another body to the 24 already there, 20 of whom were killed from violence according to the staff, in Malakal, Upper Nile State, in South Sudan Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014
    Staff open the doors of the morgue at the teaching hospital to add another body to the 24 already there, 20 of whom were killed from violence according to the staff, in Malakal, Upper Nile State, in South Sudan Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014
    Machar has denied having anything to do with a coup bid.

    Thousands of people have been killed and nearly one million have fled their homes during weeks of fighting that took on ethnic overtones as backers of Kiir, a member of the majority Dinka ethnic group, fought loyalists to Machar, a Nuer.

    Kiir called early on in the fighting for an end to targeted ethnic killings and vowed to bring to justice anyone found to be involved in what he called "such terrible acts."

    The president called on all sides in the conflict, including Machar, whom he mentioned by name, to "put the interest of our newly independent nation first."

    At a meeting this week of the SPLM, Machar's successor, Igga, denied that the violence was ethnically based, and called on the nearly one million South Sudanese who have fled their homes to return and help rebuild their shattered nation.

    "If there are comrades who might have gone to hide because they happen to come... from the Nuer community... let them come back because the situation is normal. You can play your role in nation-building," Igga told some 400 SPLM members.

    Machar, meanwhile, insisted that his resistance movement wants to use peaceful means, including the ballot box, to oust Kiir, but has been forced to take up arms to fend off attacks by government forces that the opposition says have continued even after the two sides signed a ceasefire last month.

    Even as he spoke to VOA, sporadic clashes continued around South Sudan, with both sides blaming the other for starting the fighting.

    At least 32 civilians were killed in a village near Bor, in Jonglei state, late last week, and the town of Leer in Unity state -- Machar's hometown -- was the scene of heavy fighting last weekend.



    The U.S. State Department on Saturday expressed concern over "reports of violations by both the Government of South Sudan and anti-government forces of the Cessation of Hostilities agreement" signed last month at peace talks in Addis Ababa under the mediation of regional African body, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

    State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called on both sides to support the next round of talks for South Sudan, which will focus on establishing a political dialogue and building an "inclusive reconciliation process." Those talks are due to begin Monday in Ethiopia.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: koang from: Canada
    February 18, 2014 4:41 AM
    Kirr's not a leader'he is badman. We make sure he moved to Uganda.

    by: Arbait-Loska from: Sweden
    February 12, 2014 2:10 AM
    Did you say democracy?.... equality? You caused the new South Sudan to plunge into disarray. Stop talking sentimental rubbish.
    SS people need their livelihood and their stability back.

    by: Gatwech Puoch from: Gambella
    February 11, 2014 11:01 AM
    As you say that you bring Democratic and equality with the South Sudan that is good and that is system in which many of Southern Sudanese things about all time in their live time

    by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
    February 11, 2014 3:36 AM
    It's very unfortunate for the people of South Sudan are being forced to head down into wrong direction of civil war, annihilation, starvation and refugee camps.
    Kiir and Machar have strategically copycatted straight from actions of former Somali warlords who mercilessly ruined Somalia beyond repair.
    Kiir and Machar undeniably committed crimes against humanity. Both men brought disgrace to their own people and country.

    by: chame from: usa
    February 10, 2014 9:44 PM
    Based on Machar's demands, for instance releasing of political detainees so that they can join political peace process, total withdrawal of foreign troops, and representatives from different groups including religious groups, indicates that Dr. Machar is ultimately seeking for lasting peace that can restore the damaged trust among Southern Sudanese. Unlike Machar, Salva on other hand, disrespect the demand of all peace negotiators because he knows that his lies will prevail. I would encourage my fellows southern Sudanese and the International communities who participated in south Sudan peace talks to keep pressure president Kiir to accept the international demands so that the south Sudan stability will return to vivid manner

    by: Anonymous
    February 10, 2014 4:34 PM
    Dr Machar needs all the support he can get so that South Sudan starts with strong democracy. It will be a great pity if S-Sudan ends up with a warlord clinging on, oppressing opposition, manipulating constitution to suit his personal goals like is the case in Uganda and Rwanda that are stuck with gun totting so called visionaries. Mercenaries must be ordered out and reformed quickly put in place and a well inclusive administration created, if needed, proportional representation like in Italy or Israel can be adopted. A Kiir -Dinka dynasty is not good for S-Sudan.

    by: wol majok from: Csnads
    February 10, 2014 3:21 PM
    Mr. Machsr will never I achieve his vision because he has no vsision in first place to begin with. Secondly, he his the enemy of Democracy as he never been an agent but destruction hoping that will lead him to presidency chair.Thirdly, he has been and always be the source of conflicts in South Sudan .Fourthly, he I'd a tribal man and thinks that he can rally other tribes and his sgsist the Dinka tribe that is not a vision but distortion. Finslly, he does not want to work under other or under those who have than PHDs.

    I would finally say that, Mr. Riak Machar will not get away with it this as people of South Sudan had enough of his evil thinking to kill people in the name Democracy. This man I think has serious medical issues that need attention not his new formed movement.
    In Response

    by: Kiir from: Uganda
    February 11, 2014 3:51 AM
    Thanks Mr. Majok about your interested commend about Dr. Riek. As a S. Sudanese I know Dr. Riek unite South Sudanes than Kiir.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.