As controversially ousted former South Sudanese opposition leader, Dr Riek Machar, receives expert medical care in South Africa, his spokesman has placed the responsibility for the country’s ongoing civil war on all and sundry – except his boss.
Opposition Spokesman James Gatdet Dak said not only is President Salva Kiir, and the ruling Sudanese Liberation People’s Movement (SPLM), to blame for the continuing bloodshed, and the failure of the August 2015 peace agreement, but also the African Union (AU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the international community as well.
Dak’s remarks were reported on Thursday the Sudan Tribune.
However, in an interview with the African News Agency (ANA) on Friday South Sudan’s Ambassador to South Africa, Philip Jada Natana, hit back at Machar, accusing him and his Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) of failing to take responsibility for their part in the civil war.
“This has always been Machar’s tactic to capitalise on popular sentiment when international criticism is levelled against Juba and then present that as his bargaining chip,” Natana told ANA.
“This was his strategy even during the war in 2013 when there was strong criticism, particularly from the Americans, against corruption by the government. Machar used that as a whipping post to further his own agenda which included an attempted coup,” said Natana.
Natana’s strong counter-attack came in response to Dak’s comments to the Tribune when he stated that “IGAD-Pus, which includes bloc representatives from the rest of the AU, the Troika (US, UK, Norway), China and the United Nations were the ones that cooked the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS)”.
“They told Machar and his officials to return to Juba despite an improper security arrangement for his protection in Juba. But when Kiir’s forces attacked him by killing the majority of his bodyguards at the Republic Palace on July 8 with an attempt to assassinate him, IGAD and the international community were dumbfounded,” said Dak.
“Two days later on July 10 Kiir ordered his forces, with tanks and helicopter gunships to attack Machar’s residence and base and chased him out of Juba into the bushes and hunted him down for five weeks until he crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo, yet nobody in the region told Kiir to stop what he was doing. They simply watched the show in silence,” he alleged.
Dak added that some in the region wrongly thought that for Kiir to kill his rival and peace partner, Machar, would have been “another African solution to an African problem” to end the rivalry between the two leaders.
Instead it would have resulted in uncontrollable violence across the country, said the opposition spokesman.
Furthermore, added Dak, even after the July 8 violence which has resulted in the collapse of the peace agreement and the dismantling of the transitional government of national unity, the region or the international community at large has failed to come up with an initiative to revive the peace deal and have instead continued to welcome leaders who replaced Machar illegally.