November 28, 2017 (JUBA) – A South Sudanese official has accused the leader of the main rebel group of unwillingness to participate in the reunification of the country’s ruling party (SPLM).
- South Sudanese president Salva Kiir (L), Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete (C) and South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar (R) pose after meeting for talks on 20 October 2014 in the northern Tanzanian tourist town of Arusha (Photo: AFP)
Nhial Deng Nhial, a presidential adviser, claimed Riek Machar placed demands likely to derail efforts aimed at achieving the reunification process.
According to Nhial, the Cairo declaration clearly states what the three SPLM factions would do and which ones would participate in upcoming meetings and processes aimed at confidence-building.
“Riek Machar has been conducting himself in a manner indicative of someone not willing to participate in the reunification of the SPLM,” he told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday, citing Machar’s failure to attend meetings in Kampala, despite several invitations.
“This indicates he [Machar] is not willing to participate in the reunification. The SPLM-IO [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In-Opposition] leadership is recognizing Taban Deng Gai as the leader and so we are dealing with Taban who has already been participating in the meetings through his representatives,” he added.
The rival factions of South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement recently signed a unification agreement to rebuild trust and confidence among them.
The Cairo Declaration, which contained names of Pagan Amum, a former political detainee and South Sudan’s defence minister, Kuol Manyang, was expected to speed up implementation of the 2015 Arusha accord, signed nearly three years ago
The senior South Sudanese presidential aide, however, said the coalition government will continue to engage Gai until they resolve the question of leadership.
“While they are holding their discussions, we will go ahead. We will not wait”, said Nhial.
The country’s minister of transport, John Luk Jok said the group of the former political detainees, to which he belongs, have been taking part in all the meetings of the ruling party reunification and will continue to participate without preconditions.
The spokesperson for the former detainees, Kosti Manibe, said the Cairo declaration was not different from the Arusha reunification and was a process to build confidence between stakeholders to come up with workable modalities to implement the Arusha accord.
“The Cairo declaration was a separate agreement. It was part of the process seeking how to harmonize views and to come up with the implementation modalities. So Cairo declaration did not exclude anybody,” he told Sudan Tribune.
Manibe, a former finance minister, said the Arusha reunification agreement returned all members of the SPLM to their initial party positions before internal political debates triggered a war in 2013.
In January 2015, delegates from three factions of the SPLM party signed a 12-page agreement in Arusha, Tanzania, laying out key steps toward reunifying the party.
Those who signed include the party loyal to President Salva Kiir, the SPLM-in-Opposition and which is led by former First Vice President Riek Machar and a third made up of party officials who were detained when the conflict began in December 2013.
The South Sudanese ruling party was initially founded as the political wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). The party, in the aftermath of the civil war that broke out in the country in mid-December 2013, split into the SPLM-Juba faction headed by Kiir, SPLM-IO led by Machar and that of the ex-political detainees.