June 25th, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —— Former First Vice President, Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of SPLM/A-IO, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, has turned down an invitation by the Co-Chair of President Salva Kiir’s National Dialogue.
Mr. Abel Alier-Wal Kwai, one of the two co-chairs of the stranded dialogue, sent out an invitation to Dr. Machar and other key opposition leaders outside the country to return and attend a “national dialogue”, which would be supervised by Salva Kiir’s faction through the Chambers of the current Transitional Government of National Unity.
According to Dr. Machar, who received the invitation yesterday, June 24th, and promptly responded, a National Dialogue is not a priority at the moment while a “genocidal war” continues to intensify and escalate in the world’s youngest nation.
The SPLM/A(IO) Chairman stresses that the factions must focus their efforts to seek for a sustainable peace through a mediated political peace process to first end the war and later dialogue to reconcile the communities and rebuild social fabrics.
“As mucg as we believe national dialogue is an important process for the people of South Sudan to engage in, however, it is our considered opinion that the priority is to end the raging genocidal war in the country that has created displacement of over 2 million people internally and 2.5 million as refugees in the neighboring countries.” The SPLM/A-IO Chairman, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, states in his response letter in South Africa.
“As such our efforts are focused to search for sustainable peace through a mediated peace process to end the war rather than national dialogue” Dr. Machar continued.
Machar’s short response is a bitter pill for the president and his inner circle to swallow, and this could be a turning point for the national dialogue committee to never try to pursue the opposition.
President Salva Kiir and his new right hand man, Stephen Taban Deng Gai, who replaces Machar in July 2016 after a deadly dog-fight in the capital, want the national dialogue to substitute a peaceful political process to end the war.
Despite the calls for a national dialogue, Kiir’s government has pursued intense military operations to capture Machar’s SPLM/A-IO controlled areas in the country, which has now displaced more than one million people since July 2016, according to the United Nations Security Council report.
The UNSC June assessment report points out that at least 100, 000 people were displaced recently in Yuai, Wa’at and Ayod counties alone by the government troops.
More people have been displaced in Equatoria, Wau-Shilluck, Western Bhar el Ghazal states and fear continues to ravage peace efforts in Northern Bhar el Ghazal and Warrap as more rebel groups are being formed by loyalists of the former Chief of Staff, Gen. Paul Malong Awan, who was sacked last month, May 2017.
The dialogue, which lags behind according to its original schedule, was to be supervised by President Salva Kiir, himself, and co-chaired by Bishop Paride Taban, a renowned Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Torit.
Citing old age and spiritual role, the Bishop submits his resignation to President Salva Kiir to be excused. Three months later president Salva Kiir also resigned from the dialogue following criticism and lack of inclusivity.
In search of inclusivity President Kiir also appointed his rival, Rebecca Nyandeng, the widow of late Dr. John Garang, to the National Dialogue Committee but Hon. Nyandeng declines the appointment citing the same reasons as Machar.
In addition to ongoing war, insecurity, displacement of civilians, lack of transparency and inclusivity, the national dialogue lacks funding and resources as South Sudan’s economy continue to deteriorate.
It remains to be seen if the national dialogue would be held in the near future but its critics say its chances are less likely.