News / Africa

    2016 to Be Year of Peace, South Sudan Rebel Leader Says

    FILE - South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar poses for a photograph as he is interviewed by The Associated Press about the situation in South Sudan.
    FILE - South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar poses for a photograph as he is interviewed by The Associated Press about the situation in South Sudan.
    James Butty

    Former Vice President Riek Machar has assured the people of South Sudan that 2016 will be the year of peace.

    The rebel leader said his group is working hard to make sure people get the peace they have been yearning for since the start of the civil war more than 21 months ago.

    Machar said he and his group were committed to the complete implementation of the August peace agreement. But he said President Salva Kiir’s creation of 28 new states without consultation had become an obstacle to the implementation.

    “First of all, let me take this opportunity to wish the people of South Sudan a happy new year!" he said. "It will be a year where our people will enjoy peace which they have lacked for the last two years. We are working hard to ensure that the peace agreement which we signed on the 17th of August 2015 is implemented.”  

    On Thursday, the second group of 78 rebel advance team members arrived in Juba. Machar said the advance team under the leadership of General Taban Deng Gai has been doing a “wonderful job.”

    “They met the president more than three times, they met the vice president, they met the speaker of the national assembly, and they met all those who are important," he said. "And the members of our advance team who are members of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) participated in the first-ever meeting of the JMEC. Also, the Joint Military Cease-fire Commission has met for the first time; the National Constitutional Amendment Committee, which is supposed to be amending the current transitional constitution, has also met."

    But Machar said Kiir’s creation of 28 new states had thrown a monkey wrench into the implementation process.

    People's will

    On Thursday, Kiir called on his supporters to defend the creation of the 28 states, saying the decision was the will of the people and in line with the country’s transitional constitution.

    “Everyone has to respect the will of the people," Kiir said. "The creation of the [28] states and the appointment of the governors were in fulfillment of the desire of the people, and if there are people rejecting it, the people who have called for [it] must ask them to provide answers to why they are against what the people want.”

    He said the peace agreement was imposed on the country and therefore he had the right to alter it in order to accommodate views from the people of South Sudan.

    “Now, there are people saying this is a violation of peace agreement," Kiir said. "They have forgotten that the agreement they are talking about [is] an imposed agreement which was not accepted by the people, and for us to accommodate these views and make lasting peace, we took into accounts the views of the people the same way we did for the agreement.”

    The South Sudan government also accused the rebels of hypocrisy. After all, the government said, the rebels were the first to announce the creation of 21 states and even appointed governors.

    Principle of federalism

    But Machar said the rebels’ interest in creating states was based on the principle of federalism, or giving more power to the people. But he said the government and the mediators rejected the idea during the negotiations. Besides, Machar said, the suggestion was made before the August 2015 peace agreement was signed.

    “We created the 21 states before we signed the peace agreement," Machar said. "They created 28 states 39 days after they signed the peace agreement. It’s not the establishment of the 28 states, it is the fact that the states they established are going to cause border wars between communities.”

    In addition, Machar said the rebels’ creation of 21 states was based on delineated, demarcated borders created during British colonial rule over 50 years ago.

    On security arrangements, Machar said rebel forces were preparing to go to Juba, probably by mid-January, to be part of the joint integrated security as mandated by the August peace agreement. But he said he didn't know whether the old government forces had moved out of Juba.

    Machar reiterated his commitment to implementing the peace agreement irrespective of who is the leader of South Sudan because, he said, he’s happy with the agreement.

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    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: Mr Bright
    January 01, 2016 10:12 AM
    Where did his the President get the will of the people as he claims? Was a referendum carried out for him to come up with such conclusion. Let him just be humble enough to withdraw his decree for the sake of peace in South Sudan. In future if there is a necessity to increase the states, that should be done in agreement with all the parties concerned.

    by: Isaac
    January 01, 2016 4:16 AM
    Pleeeeeaaaaasssseee stop this and make peace in SouthSudan

    January 01, 2016 3:12 AM
    Kiir must cease all these violations for peace to prevail, why did you accept it if it was imposed on you

    by: santino chol atem
    January 01, 2016 12:25 AM
    Implementation and 28 states are the continued of peace in South Sudan nothing change
    In Response

    by: Yuldit from: Nairobi
    January 01, 2016 1:21 PM
    Santino Chol. If the implementation of 28 states are the continue of peace in the country and nothing change, then it become obvious that Dinka Council of Elders and the likes are behind the disasters in our New Nation. Nuer were not after Riek because he is Nuer, but because Nuer innocents were killed just because they shares the same tribe with Riek. South Sudan is the country that needs both Dinka and Nuers, and if we side foolishly as such, the God of Creature will curse South Sudan dividers.

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