Kiir says opponent Machar believes can capture power through war—thus, can’t pardon him


South Sudan President Salva Kiir said Sunday that he will not pardon his opponent Riek Machar back into the country unless he denounces his armed rebellion and violence.

Kiir said he has received numerous request from parties to South Sudan peace process to pardon his long time rival if he attempts to return into the country.

“They come asking me to pardon him. I tell them I have no problem with him. He is a citizen of this country and he can return anytime, but must denounce violence”, he said.

Referring to him as my brother, Kiir said “Machar thinks the only way for him to become the president of this country is violence, killing innocent people. I told him several times [that]there is no reason to fight. If you [Machar] wants to be the president, wait for elections, but he did not listen”, Kiir said.

A political power struggle between both men climaxed in December 2013 only two years after independence from Sudan.

Kiir accused his then deputy Machar and  ten others of attempting a coup d’état, a claim Machar vehemently denied later calling for his resignation. Fighting broke out between the government forces SPLA and a group allied to Machar SPLA – in opposition, igniting a 20 months brutal the civil war.

With Pressure from the international community and regional partners, both men signed a peace deal in August 2015. This peace agreement was later short lived when fighting between forces loyal to the two men broke out in the capital Juba in July 2016. Kiir said his opponent had once again attempted to orchestrate another coup.

The resumption of fighting in July prompted the opposition leader to flee the into the bushes of the South towards Congo with hundreds of fighters.

United Nations Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) said evacuated Machar and the fighters reportedly on humanitarian grounds because they were in need of medical attention. Machar would later be airlifted to Khartoum for further medical care.

Machar declared an armed uprising on the government of Kiir who he said had lost legitimacy after the collapse of the 2015 peace agreement.

The United States proposed on Friday that the United Nations Security Council blacklist Machar, South Sudan army chief Paul Malong and South Sudan Information minister Michael Makuei for their involvement in the conflict.