EXCLUSIVE: I want to meet President Zuma, says S Sudan rebel leader

2016-10-15 15:18
Riek Machar. (Jason Patinkin, AP)

Riek Machar. (Jason Patinkin, AP)

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Johannesburg - South Sudan's former vice president Reik Machar says he wants to meet with President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa to tell his side of the story in the ongoing civil war that has ravaged his country. 

In an interview with News24, Machar said he wanted a new political process to end the war after the 2015 August peace deal collapsed within a few months. He said South Africa should be in the forefront when the talks resume.

Ramaphosa has been involved in the talks to secure peace in the east African country.

"I really want this great country South Africa and it's government to play a role in bringing about peace in South Sudan like they did in 2015 agreement. They should not give up on it. The government should play a vital role in initiation of political process to bring a swift end to conflict." Machar said.

The opposition leader arrived in South Africa this week for what he called "a routine medical check-up".

"I am physically fit, I can run 500 miles again, so I am here for routine checkup," Machar said.

He said that president Zuma needed to hear his part of the story after he reportedly "slammed"  him during his state visit to Kenya this week.

New process has regional support 

"We condemn the recent call by SPLM in the opposition under Dr Riek Machar for a popular armed resistance against the government in Juba. We call on Dr Machar to return to juba, Zuma was quoted as saying. 

But Machar remained adamant that he would only return to South Sudan after a new peace process has been put in place.

"I really hope to meet [the] president here and have a dialogue. I understand what he said in Kenya was also rejected in Juba," Machar said.

Machar claimed that his call for a new political process had the support of (IGAD mediator) Ugandan President Yuweri Museveni and the United Nations. 

He said he planned  to return to Ethiopia to lobby for more support.

Machar abandoned the vice presidency in December 2013 after a civil war broke out between the government and rebel forces loyal to him. 

'Salva Kiir has misgoverned the country'

He returned to the country following last year's peace deal but soon fled when war broke out again.

He claimed to have survived a 37 day attack, including air and ground attacks in July when the transitional government collapsed amid renewed fighting. He fled on foot to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Machar vowed not to give up the fight for a democratic South Sudan. 

He accused President Salva Kiir for the continued conflict in the country. 

"I am not the one who caused the instability. It's the other side that should go. He [President Salva Kiir] has misgoverned the country, he has shown what he can do to the country, created displacement with a million refugees. He has discredited himself," Machar said. 

"I always take responsibility but I am not responsible for the war, he said.

The conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced more than two million people. South Sudan became Africa's youngest country after the end of a 21 year war with its nieghbour Sudan for independence. 

Read more on:    riek machar  |  salva kiir  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  sa  |  south sudan  |  east africa

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