Demonstrations in Juba PoCs to demand peace, Machar’s release
May 17th 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – South Sudanese internally displaced persons living inside the protection of civilian sites (PoCs) manned by the United Nations Mission is South Sudan (UNMISS) peacefully demonstrates today to demand peace and the release of the country’s former first vice president Riek Machar as the last round of the High-Level Revitalization Forum commence today, residents told the Nyamilpedia on Thursday.
Gatluak Machar, one of the internally displaced persons who said he has been living in the Jebel site since transferring from the UN House in Tongping which he fled to in December 2013, said the peaceful protest was mean to remind the IGAD that the forgotten citizens in the UNMISS camp want peace.
“We protested to remind the IGAD an the international community that we want peace,” he said pointing out that their intention to demand the release of the SPLM-IO Chairman Riek Machar is for the sack of peace if this war is to be ended peacefully.
Another resident told the Nyamilepedia on the condition of anonymity the protests would be a one-day and would not continue for the second day.
Machar has been under house arrest since October 2016 after the regional bloc reportedly asked South African authorities to detain him from leaving the country reportedly in hope to prevent him from taking part in the political crisis in South Sudan in order to stop the war but but in contrary, the war has been raging on since then.
In March, the IGAD decided to release him but the planned release has some demands attached to it which the opposition said do not make sense. The IGAD said Machar must first renounce violence in order to be relocated to one of the country outside the region (neighboring countries). For their part, the opposition said their group under Machar has already signed a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement with the government; something they said shows their group is not interested in violent meant of solving the current crisis.
On Tuesday, IGAD foreign ministers visited Machar in South Africa to discuss with him the planned transfer to third country by the regional body but could not agree with the armed opposition leader over their plan to relocate him to Djibouti with the later’s insistence that the relocation to another country rather than the venue of the talks (Addis Ababa) would mean a change of “jail cell”.
Manawa Peter Gatkuoth, a member of the SPLM-IO Political Bureau and a member of the group’s negotiating team in Addis Ababa, told the Nyamilepedia that the IGAD meeting with Machar had failed due to IGAD’s insistence to relocate Machar to Djibouti which he said the later regarded as a change of prison cell.
“The meeting between our Chairman and the IGAD Council of Ministers did not go well,” Gatkuoth said pointing out that “the council is still insisting on relocation [of Machar] to Djibouti instead of release.”
South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 after forces loyal to the country’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardiit and his then Governor of Northern Bahr Al-Ghazal State Gen. Paul Malong Awan went door-to-door in the capital Juba killing civilians belonging to the Nuer ethnic group sparking a nation-wide protests from top army generals from the Nuer leading to a civil war.
A peace agreement signed in August 2015 by President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar and negotiated under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) in presence of Troika and other international observers collapsed in July 2016 following fighting at the presidential palace in Juba “J1” reportedly after President Kiir ordered a failed attempt to arrest the SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar.
Late last year, the IGAD decided to revive the peace agreement and had initiated a peace revival mechanism known as the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) to bring back to life the 2015 peace agreement. Previous rounds of the HLRF has been unsuccessful and the IGAD said it expect the warring parties to negotiate on the last round of talks which is due to commence today Thursday.
South Sudan government on Tuesday unveiled a long list of delegates to peace talks in the Neighboring Ethiopia while the opposition said they already have their team there, but government delegation could not attend the face-to-face South-South dialogue,the NyaThe IGAD has given the negotiating parties May 21st as the ultimatum to sign a peace deal.
It is not clear what would be the consequences in case the warring parties do not meet the dateline.