South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Thursday called on his rival, Vice President and head of the former rebels, Riek Machar, to return to the capital Juba, to revive the peace process.
“I call on Riek Machar to return to Juba for us to continue the implementation of the peace agreement. As you know, this agreement needs us both for it to be applied,” Kiir said in a statement read to the press by his spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny.
While repeating that he will be 100% committed to the security of Machar in Juba, President Kiir stressed that he is “waiting for a response within 48 hours so that we can establish contact and continue to promote peace.”
Machar left Juba after the deadly fighting between his troops and those of Kiir. The violence, which left at least 300 dead, threatened the fragile peace agreement started in August 2015 to end the civil war that began in December 2013.
With this call, President Kiir seems determined to capitalize on the absence of Riek Machar who has not appeared in public since the end of fighting and whose whereabouts is unknown.
Taban Deng Gay, the Minister of Mines in the unity government had requested the return of Machar in Juba on July 14. “Machar is outside Juba and I do not know where he is, but we ask him to return to Juba as soon as possible,” he told reporters.
“The country needs peace and the country needs everyone’s efforts. But if someone decides not to return to Juba to implement the peace process, I would say that the SPLM-IO (former rebel group) is a great movement and not a person, and that its leaders decided to continue the implementation of the agreement,” he stressed.
Taban Deng Gay, who was the chief negotiator of the former rebels to the peace agreement, is considered among the allies of President Kiir as a possible candidate to replace Riek Machar if he decides not to return to Juba.