South Sudan armed group roots for peace

Tuesday April 30 2019

Pope Francis (bottom) kneels to kiss the feet of South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit at the Pope's Santa Marta residence in the Vatican on April 11,2019. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO), the military wing of an armed opposition faction led by Dr Riek Machar, has warned its leader that it was not ready to go to war again.

The two rivals have differed sharply since a promising retreat at the vatican earlier this month over the formation of a unity government.

Dr Machar has threatened to withdraw from the revitalised peace process and vowed he will not return to Juba where the unity government was set to be formed on May 12 under a roadmap agreed on in August last year.

He said his security was not assured in Juba despite President Kiir assuring him of his safety.

Igad, the regional stability watchdog, has called talks between the two rivals on May 2 and May 3 in Ethiopia in a bid to resolve the dispute which could see South Sudan plunged into war again.
Gabriel Lam, the SPLA-IO deputy military spokesperson, has added new pressure on the leaders saying its fighters would not engage in another war just because of differences between the two principals.

“We came here in peace and not to do violence. Therefore, the SPLA-IO would like to assure the public of their commitment to a peaceful continuation of the implementation of security arrangement,"


Dr Machar wants the transitional period before the unity government is formed extended by six months to November while Machar wants the new dispensation to be put in place on schedule.

In what could soften Dr Machar's hardline stance, Colonel Lam said SPLA -IO had no intention of going back to war.

“People have already seen division of ideas or difference in ideas. The SPLA-IO is asking the civilians to remain calm because it has got no intention of going back to war,” he said.
"So regardless of what happens, we are going to continue with the implementation peacefully. It is not time for violence at the moment. It is time for us to have peace in this country,” he added.
He said the military was stable and ready to implement reforms that were agreed under the revitalised peace accord.
The army opposition deputy spokesperson said people had suffered enough and it was time to establish a stable nation.
"All we want is to make sure peace prevails. The citizens of this country have suffered a lot to see another round of war. It is time to move forward to where people live in peace and harmony as one family,” he said.

Kiir and Machar signed peace last September in Addis-Ababa.