June 14, 2017 (WAU) – Taban Deng Gai, South Sudan’s First Vice President, claimed that the return of rebel leader Riek Machar to Juba to participate in the National Dialogue was a “recipe for disaster and would impose more catastrophe in the country.”
In a speech before an extraordinary meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) leaders on Monday 12 June, Gai insisted that the presence of Machar in the country always lead to death and disaster, something the people of the country do no need.
“Machar who has been exiled to South Africa should remain there and will not consent to re-join the political process to end the conflict in the country without using his army,” Gai told the IGAD leader in the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa, according to the text of his statement seen by Sudan Tribune.
During the discussions of the one-day meeting, the heads of state and government decided to urgently “revitalise the full implementation of the ARCSS;” pointing to the failure of the current government in Juba to implement the peace agreement and pave the way democratic reforms.
IGAD leaders praised the national dialogue process which would lay down the ground for national reconciliation but stressed that the ending the war and improve the humanitarian situation in the country should be prioritised for the time being.
The first deputy further tried in his speech to convince the IGAD leader that Riek Machar was filing with efforts to use military action to rule the country, stating that Machar did not need the National Dialogue.
“I who was with Riek Machar know him more than anyone and with his own mindset, he is not intending to take part in any process, he wants to become the President of South Sudan even through war,” said Gai who was the SPLM-IO chief negotiator.
He went on to respond to the calls by several political officials that Machar should be allowed to return to Juba as a normal citizen.
“This is the beginning of everything. If Riek is proposed to return to Juba, tomorrow people will move to a new topic of bringing him to his former post which he left last year. I am not predicting that he should take over of my post, the reality is, Riek is fill of destroying the country,” emphasised the First Vice President.
“By the end the of the transitional period, the full integration of the army will have been completed and it would be safe for South Sudan to accept the return of Riek Machar who can then come and contest peaceful democratic elections as a civil political leader,” he said.
Gai added that it would be unwise for Riek Machar to return to South Sudan now because of his behaviour, but he was more than welcome to send delegates on his behalf.
“The unity government has no objection in principle to Machar sending a delegation to deliver his views and message to the people of South Sudan in the National Dialogue Forum,” said the First Vice President.
SPLM-IO believe that the peace agreement implementation should be discussed to fix the modalities of the ceasefire and to open humanitarian access to the civilians but also they want their share in the transitional government tasked with the enforcement of the deal and to give their leader his position of the first vice president.