JUBA – South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar expressed his frustration with the peace process led by the eastern African regional block saying they are no longer qualified to play this role and called for a new process aiming to end the war.
In a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on 14 September seen by Sudan Tribune, the exiled former first vice president was referring to the criticism against the IGAD countries which are accused of using the crisis to achieve national interests in the young nation of South Sudan.
More particularly, Machar pointed to a statement by the IGAD Council of Ministers meeting held in Juba on 24 July saying it declared that the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) for South Sudan Peace Process “is not for renegotiation and the opposition is not invited”.
“The position taken by IGAD was earlier reflected in a public statement that was made by President Kiir on July 9th, 2017 in Juba. This clearly demonstrates that the HLRF process is meant to support President Kiir’s regime by rallying regional and international support for its declared National Dialogue (ND) and elections,” he further asserted.
Machar, also said that the Chairman or Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), Festus Mogae has endorsed a similar position in a report to the 18th JMEC Plenary on July 12th, 2017.
Therefore, the SPLM-IO leader said the IGAD is no longer qualified to lead the peace process because of its public support of one party to the conflict and to the detriment of another.
“We do not object to IGAD’s participation in the process, we do however request IGAD to relinquish the role as the lead mediator, (…) IGAD has missed many opportunities for a genuine process to end the war. The SPLM/A (IO) urges the AU, UN and Troika to reconsider their position on their support for IGAD to lead the peace process in South Sudan.
Machar went further declare they “strongly support” the use of a Troika-EU document titled ‘non-paper on South Sudan process’ to launch “a new mediated political process for ending the war and resuscitating Agreement”.
“Our position is that ending the conflict is the priority and thus investing time and resources to pursue a political process to that end is a prerequisite. This will create the necessary environment for the full implementation of the Agreement; including the provisions for reconciliation, healing, justice and accountability; and the establishment of the Hybrid Court,” he said.
He further proposed to convene an urgent humanitarian forum involving all the stakeholders in order implement a humanitarian intervention pointing such a smooth relief operation require the signing of an enforceable ceasefire.
Observers say Machar blames the IGAD countries for supporting his confinement in South Africa on the request of Juba government which is purportedly paying the fees of his stay there.
Four years since the eruption of hostilities in Juba, more than 2.4 million people are refugees in the neighbouring countries, while another 2 million people are internally displaced, and over 250,000 are under the protection of UN in the national capital and other major towns in the war-torn country.