S. Sudan VP rules out standing aside for rebel leader Machar

September 2, 2014 (WAU) – South Sudan’s vice-president, James Wani Igga, said on Tuesday that he will not step down again to accommodate his predecessor Riek Machar.

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South Sudan’s vice-president, James Wani Igga, speaks at the opening of the national reconciliation and peace conference in Wau on 2 September 2014 (ST)

Igga, who was addressing the opening ceremony of a national peace and reconciliation conference in Western Bahr el Ghazal state capital Wau said he previously stood aside for Machar in 2005 for the sake of patriotism after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended more than two decades of civil war between north and south, paving the way for South Sudan’s secession in 2011.

“This is a third time now for Riek with his similar behaviours of switching side to side,” he said.

“He did it to Dr John Garang when Garang was leading [the] liberation struggle of South Sudan from Sudan,” he added, referring to the founding leader of the country’s guerrilla movement turned ruling party (SPLM).

Machar served in the Sudanese government until the signing of the CPA after which he returned to the SPLM, with Igga subsequently agreeing to vacate his post.

Igga’s comments come after South Sudan’s warring parties agreed on the formation of a transitional government and signed a matrix protocol principle in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in front of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating peace talks.

The agreement proposed offering Machar the position of vice-president and the creation of a prime minister post in the country.

The document was presented as a guideline for discussions aimed at ending the country’s political crisis.

South Sudan has been mired in conflict since mid-December last year after an internal rift in the SPLM party turned violent.

The fighting has pitted government troops loyal to president Salva Kiir against pro-Machar rebels.

Igga has welcomed the IGAD’s decision to support Kiir as head of the
transitional government until the planned 2015 elections take place, criticising Machar over his refusal to sign the matrix principle agreement on the transitional government.

“We, the Government of south Sudan, are very keen to make peace, that is why we agreed on all principles proposed [by] the international communities and [in] the interests of our people to restore peace in the country,” he said.

“But now the problem will be between and international communities and Riek Machar who refused [to] ink the paper,” he added.

Igga called for a peaceful resolution to the crisis, saying it was unnecessary for the people of South Sudan to continue fighting among themselves for the sake of Machar’s political interests, saying there was no place for nepotism, tribalism and corruption.

“Let us hold our hands together to bring peace back to our nation,” he said.

“South Sudan is our country; let us all be equal before law,” he added.

Igga was appointed vice-president after Kiir sacked Machar last July.