Machar Refuses To Meet Kiir
The First Vice President of South Sudan is reluctant to come meet with the President Salva Kiir after the latter’s forces killed a large number of his bodyguards in Juba and bombed cantonment sites allocated to his forces under the terms of the peace deal.
Riek Machar’s whereabouts were reported to be near Juba, according to his spokesman yesterday, but the country’s top peace monitor says they do not know where he is.
The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission Chairman Festus Mogae, former president of Botswana, chartered a flight to arrive in Juba today for crisis talks with Kiir and ministers of the SPLM-IO who are still in Juba in an effort to salvage the peace deal after days of clashes in Juba that last until Monday. African Union Envoy Alpha Konare, former president of Mali, accompanied Mogae.
In a press conference after the meeting of the three presidents, Kiir disclosed that he spoke with Machar this morning and asked him to come meet with him but the vice president found it difficult to accept this.
Kiir said, “We were talking about what happened here on Friday, and I have given them assurances that I want Dr. Riek Machar the First Vice President of the Republic to be near me so that we chart the way forward.”
“I talked to Dr. Riek in the morning today, I talked with him and I asked him to come but it was difficult for him to accept. I asked him also to tell his ministers who are now in the hotels here in Juba to tell them to come out and so that they talk to me, I talk to them on what we should be doing.”
He continued, “Still there is resistance that he thinks that his ministers are not secure, they cannot be safe. I told him these people are in the hotels and their hotels are known. If there is anybody hunting for them he can find them.”
“So this is what I also gave to his excellencies, I gave them that assurances, that I am ready to protect Dr. Machar if he comes to where I am. And I am ready to protect any minister of the IO and any senior officers who may feel that they are vulnerable. I have been with them for a long time and I don’t want any more bloodshed in South Sudan. This is all that we talked about and this is what I wanted to tell you.”
Following Kiir’s remarks, JMEC Chairman Festus Mogae spoke himself saying they came to consult with Kiir about the recent events and to “persuade him that he should persist and persevere in his desire for peace.” Mogae said that Kiir confirmed he is willing to meet Machar.
“We want Dr. Riek Machar and his colleagues to know that we would like… the leaders of South Sudan to meet and discuss the issues – not only the recent events, but also the factors behind the recent events and also incidents of violence that have been happening in the country as a whole.”
Festus Mogae also said up to now they do not know where is Riek Machar. “We are hoping we will be able to see him and talk to him.” Konare said that after the meeting with Kiir they were heading to meet with SPLM-IO ministers but they wanted also to see Machar himself.