Speaking on the phone from South Africa, where it is believed he received medical treatment, Machar told UK based news agency IBTimes UK that he has concluded the medical process and is preparing return home in rebel held areas in South Sudan.
Read full interview.
Question: What is your position on your dismissal as vice-president and the appointment of your chief negotiator Taban Deng Gai?
Dr. Machar: The replacement was illegal. When I left Juba, I did not do it because of my choice, I was being threatened. We were pushed outside of Juba by force of arms. But I told the president [Kiir] it would be good to meet to resolve the issue, because my personal conviction is that the peace agreement is the salvation of South Sudan. I also told the president that general Alfred Ladu Gore would act as vice-president in my absence. But then the president appointed Gai to be the chairman of SPLM-IO. It is a plot, and I believe that those who designed the agreement, they did not design it to implement it. They wanted to liquidate people like me.
Question: Gai accused you of frustrating the peace agreement and blamed you for the problems South Sudan is facing. What do you think about his claims?
Dr. Riek Machar: Taban is lying and this is because he has joined the other side. I went to Juba to implement the peace agreement, but when I arrived there, I was nearly assassinated in the state house, because the president, as you know, does not want the peace agreement. If you recall, I was the first to sign the peace agreements in Addis Ababa on 17 August 2015. He [Kiir] was present, he refused to sign. Nine days later, he signed it in Juba, but had some reservations. He also told Al Jazeera the agreement was not implementable. But when I was interviewed, I said the agreement was implementable, even if we had issues and disagreements.
Question: Do you think an agreement based on power sharing can work in South Sudan?
Dr. Riek Machar: Yes. Power sharing is part of the agreement and we want to implement it. It should work if there is political will.
Question: What are the necessary conditions to achieve peace in South Sudan?
Dr. Riek Machar: Fighting is going on. The first thing to do is to initiate a political process and foster a political engagement between warring parties. There are issues that have to be addressed in the peace agreement. Security and power-sharing arrangements need to be reviewed because lots of things have happened since July. The dynamics of the war have changed and the conflict has now spread to other areas.
Question: Are you planning to go back to South Sudan?
Dr. Riek Machar: Yes, it is home. South Sudan is not Juba, we have liberated some areas and I would stay in those liberated areas. I am currently in South Africa where I received medical treatment and I am ready to go back.
Question: When you left South Sudan in July, you went to Sudan. How would you describe your relationship with the country?
Dr. Riek Machar: It is normal, the same type of relationship I have with any other neighbouring country. Nothing is special. Sudan has been part of the mediation process and that’s it. In 2012, we signed an agreement. At one time, we were one country and Sudan is hosting the biggest number of refugees from South Sudan.
Question: South Sudanese people have been suffering greatly since the war erupted in 2013. What is your message to the people of your country?
Dr. Riek Machar: We want peace. The war has been brutal on our people. We have more than one million refugees in neighbouring countries. We have more than 150,000 people under the protection of the UN forces within South Sudan and 2.5 million people are internally displaced. We have over 7 million people in dire need of humanitarian assistance. The war must come to an end, we have been calling for a political process where warring parties can engage and review the agreement.
Source: IBTimes UK