South Sudan government has unveiled two alternative options to address armed confrontation between the rival forces in the country, with new proposals on how Vice President Riek Machar can be secured in Juba.
The options were disclosed by Nhial Deng Nhial, an advisor to President Salva Kiir, who led a high level government delegation that included foreign minister, Deng Alor Kuol, to the recently-concluded African Union summit in Kigali, Rwanda.
“The position of the government is very clear. We believe that there are ways in which this problem can be addressed without the need to resort to such a drastic action. We proposed that President Salva Kiir be allowed to provide protection to Dr Riek Machar and all SPLM-IO leaders”, Nhial said Thursday.
“The other option is for the region to modify the current mandate of UNMISS peacekeepers to include a special unit of protection for the First Vice President,” he added.
Nhial also argued that the approval of regional troops as agreed by the regional bloc (IGAD) and the African Union heads of states will not resolve confrontations between the main rival factions.
Last week, Kiir called for direct talks with first vice-president, Riek Machar, saying he detests further bloodshed in the young nation. President Kiir said he and the ex-rebel leader should salvage peace.
“I have been ready to resume talks on the issues we were discussing before this thing [violence] erupted. We were left with few things to conclude the discussions so that we begin with the implementation [the August 2015 peace agreement]”, he added.
The president was speaking for the first time since his forces clashed with those loyal to Machar last week, leaving more than 270 soldiers from the two sides dead.
President Kiir also vowed he would provide protection to Machar and his forces, citing the amnesty he had issued after declaring ceasefire as a guarantee for the security of his deputy and his forces.
“Nobody is hunting for him and his forces. If he comes, I will protect him. He will stay with me if feels he is not safe staying alone,” he said.
Meanwhile, Machar claimed the fighting that erupted between his bodyguards and Kiir’s forces in the capital was calculated to kill him.
He said he feared for his own life after the incident, adding he was also worried about the safety of his ministers currently inside Juba.
“We have a pending meeting, he as president and me as vice president. And also if it were a normal situation, we would meet, but the incident that took place on the 8th [July] in the State House is a very despicable incident, where there was a shootout, and a dog fight, when we were in a meeting,” Machar said.
“To me that was a calculated plan to kill me,” he added.
Machar, who also leads an opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, said he was willing to return back to Juba, but after a third force is deployed in Juba to take charge, ensure safety and no return to violent confrontations.