South Sudanese opposition leader Riek Machar has rejected the visit of his country’s National Dialogue Committee at his base in South Africa.
His action comes days after issuing a letter to the Committee rejecting calls to join the country’s National Dialogue process launched by President Salva Kiir.
The Committee, made up of the country’s statesmen, disclosed to the media on Monday that their quest to meet with Machar in South Africa was not successful.
“Our trip to South Africa was a peace mission. The team and I wanted to meet with Dr. Riek Machar so we hear his views on the dialogue. Unfortunately, he could not meet us, but we exchanged messages,” the Committee’s co-chair, Angelo Beda told local media on Monday.
Its spokesperson also disclosed that the South African government has promised to organise another meeting.
“It is true, they never met. The person they met was the Vice President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa. They discussed with Cyril Ramaphosa how to meet Riek Machar. But the South Africans have agreed to talk to him so that he can meet the delegation from the steering committee,” he told local radio station Eye Radio.
The self-exiled leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement SPLM-IO, Riek Machar, said in a letter dated June 24, 2014 sent to the recently formed National Dialogue Committee that the National Dialogue is not their focus but rather a mediated peace process.
“Our efforts are focused to search for sustainable peace through a mediated peace process to end the war rather than national dialogue,” he said.
“As much as we believe national dialogue is an important process for the people for South Sudan to engage in, however, it is our considered opinion that the priority is to end the raging genocidal war in the country,” he added.
Machar’s SPLM-IO group has battled soldiers loyal to Kiir for more than three years. The country plunged into civil war just two years after independence in 2011 after President Salva Kiir fired his then deputy Riek Machar.
The East African regional bloc, IGAD, at its Extra-Ordinary Summit in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa this month called upon both parties to return to the 2015 peace agreement whose implementation was abandoned following renewed violence.
The agreement faltered after renewed conflicts in 2016 between the two parties that saw the former First Vice President Riek Machar flee the country to South Africa where he is based.
Kiir declared ceasefire and launched the national dialogue body last month to organise the national peace dialogue expected to include the armed opposition to address the root causes of the conflict.
He however stated that whoever answers to the call will be included in the dialogue after the opposition earlier hinted that it will not participate.