South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit has told his rival Riek Machar to return home as an ordinary citizen or remain outside the troubled country during the period of the transitional government of national unity.
Kiir also emphasized that Machar will only be allowed back if he denounces violence and allows the coalition government to implement the 2015 peace agreement.
The South Sudanese leader was speaking at an occasion he hosted at his residence, attended by senior cabinet members, security and high-ranking military officers, a few days after rumour spread that the president had ‘died’.
Machar left Juba after renewed clashes in July between his forces and those of President Kiir claimed over 300 lives and led to the fighters loyal to the former rebel leader fleeing the city. The fighting has resulted in a humanitarian crisis with people abandoning the city for fear of a return to war.
President Kiir relieved Machar of his post as vice president and appointed the armed opposition’s former chief negotiator, Taban Deng Gai as first vice president in the interim government. Machar has, however, described Gai’s appointment as ‘illegal’.
The armed opposition group recently announced that it had officially dismissed all its senior members who have taken part in President Kiir’s new government.
This came in a resolution passed by the political bureau meeting convened for three days in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, under the chairmanship of Machar.
In Article 2 (d) of the resolution, the armed opposition’s political bureau resolved to “call for reorganization of the SPLA (IO) so that it can wage a popular armed resistance against the authoritarian and fascist regime of President Salva Kiir in order to bring peace, freedom, democracy and the rule of law in the country.”
The opposition group called for rapid deployment of regional forces in order to salvage the peace agreement signed in August 2015.
Meanwhile, the government of South Sudan has said it was working with foreign powers to find a country where the armed opposition leader, Riek Machar, should stay in exile without involving in political activities and affairs of the country.
Information Minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, said the government has slapped a political ban on the rebel chief, Riek Machar, following his call for armed resistance against President Kiir.
“He is being exiled. He will not be coming back to South Sudan and he will never be allowed to talk politics any longer,” Lueth told the media.