Exiled Machar Says Joint Gov’t Fell in July; “New regime was installed by Kiir”, Vows to Fight it

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South Sudan embattled opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar vowed to continue armed “resistance” against the government of Salva Kiir which he says lacks legitimacy.

During his first media address since the fighting broke out in Juba on July 8, 2016, Machar told journalists at Khartoum airport as he prepared to leave for South Africa that the politburo of his Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) has met and taken a decision to organize an armed resistance because the international community has cared less about the breached peace agreement.

“Until yesterday we haven’t seen any regional or international or African Union initiative to rescue the agreement,” Machar opined.

He reiterated that the peace deal signed in August 2015 after 20 months of a brutal civil war had collapsed in July and South Sudan is currently run by a “new regime installed by [president]Salva Kiir.”

“We seek to achieve a political and peaceful solution for the issue…Salva has declared war against us and we would resist and organize ourselves to resist the government even if that will lead to overthrowing it,” he said.

“Salva is the one who started violence against us at the [presidential]palace and he continues until today to attack our forces … major clashes are ongoing now in Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal and we are not responsible for it … the political solution is our first option,” he added.

-The July Fighting-

He rubbished government claims that he had gone to the presidential palace to execute a coup noting that president Kiir lured him to the palace in order to assassinate him and that he was not aware of the plot.

“I was invited by President Kiir for a meeting in the presidential palace to discuss state matters but didn’t know there was a plot to assassinate me,” he said

Clashes between opposition forces and president Kiir’s forces erupted 45 minutes after the meeting had convened and continued for about an hour, he said. Though the meeting would later be postponed to the next day, the tense security situation would not permit it.

“After that we were surprised by a two-day attack against the area where we are located … I was in constant contact with the President of the Republic, and I told him that we must stop these clashes, but he insisted on taking our sites in Juba by force,” he explained.

“Following these developments I called for a meeting and decided to withdraw my troops … I went south towards [Yei] Equatoria … we were being hunted down by ground troops while warplanes continued to bomb our sites …I walked on foot for 37 days until we arrived in the DRC where I contacted the government via some governments in the region and I also contacted the U.N. and asked them to help us leave for a safe zone,” he further narrated.

A seemingly fatigued Machar said he was going to South Africa for medical examination and also to meet his personal doctor but did not reveal his destination after South Africa.

He thanked the Sudanese people and government, President al-Bashir and the doctors who treated him, saying he regained his full health.

Credit: Sudan Tribune