South African President Jacob Zuma has on Tuesday, slammed South Sudan’s rebel leader, Riek Machar, for calling for an armed struggle against the government of his arch-rival, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir.
Zuma’s African National Congress has historical ties with South Sudan’s ruling SPLM party which split when Kiir and his then deputy Machar had a power struggle in December 2013, plunging the country into a bloody civil war.
“There is absolutely no need for fighting. Further fighting will only exacebate the human suffering in South Sudan. We call on Dr Machar to return to Juba and participate in the transitional government,” Zuma at a joint news conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi on Tuesday.
Kenyatta, who has been mediating the conflict, did not address the issue at the news conference, but Zuma’s statement reflected their closed-door meeting, officials said.
When the two leaders were asked if they were going to freeze the assets and impose sanctions on South Sudan’s rebel leaders who are causing violence in their country from their lavish homes abroad, they never answered the question.
The South African government has a memorandum of understanding for closer co-operation with the Government of South Sudan.
Zuma and Kenyatta said they addressed issues “related to peace and security in the continent.”
“We expressed our grave concern about the on-going conflict in these sister countries which affect the entire region. We urge the government and the people of Burundi to step up the national dialogue process… We condemn the recent call by SPLM-In-Opposition, under Riek Machar, for a popular armed resistance against the government in Juba. On the DRC we urge all stakeholders to participate in the national dialogue process,” said Zuma.
Zuma also addressed the instability in Somalia, but he did not touch on the civil strife that has thrown Ethiopia into a State of Emergency.