South Sudan: President Asks Machar to Return to Juba
South Sudan President Salva Kiir has asked deputy Riek Machar to confirm his return to Juba in the next 48 hours.
The vice president left Juba with his troops after days of deadly conflict between his forces and government soldiers. He hasn’t returned to the capital since, prompting President Kiir to release an official statement calling for his presence in Juba.
A response in 48 hours
The statement called on Machar to contact the president and organise a process for getting the country’s peace agreement back on track. It was a predictable statement in many ways, read by spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny, with the usual talk of commitment to peace.
“I am appealing for your return while reiterating my 100 percent commitment to ensuring your protection and overall security,” the statement read in part.
The president’s call on Machar was amicable, despite recent tensions between the pair’s rival forces.
“I will be expecting a response from your good self within 48 hours,” he concluded – hardly the ultimatum some sources are suggesting.
Machar’s party responds
Unfortunately, one group labelling Kiir’s statement as an ultimatum is Machar’s own SPLM-IO party.
“It is an unreasonable ultimatum,” spokesman James Gatdet Dak said. “First of all, President Kiir should be talking of how to restore peace and security to Juba. This can be done with the expected deployment of a third- party force.”
So it may take more than a polite request to get Machar back in Juba at this stage.
The rival parties have managed to agree on one thing over the last week, though. Key members of Machar’s SPLM-IO party are backing President Kiir’s rejection of AU troops in South Sudan.
They insist the deployment of AU troops will only make the situation worse in South Sudan.
“We have seen the repercussions and the consequences of intervention in other countries like Somalia and Libya. We don’t need this in South Sudan,” General Taban said on Eye Radio.
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