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Machar prefers peace revitalization to national dialogue

By Nichola Dominic Mandil

The co-chair of South Sudan National Dialogue Steering Committee, Angelo Beda, on Saturday said that the former First Vice President, the main opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar prefers revitalisation of the Peace Agreement to the National Dialogue process.

Mr. Beda who led a 22-member-delegation to South Africa last week for a three-day retreat for the team members made the remark at Juba International Airport upon their return from Cape Town.

They also planned to meet with the former First Vice President and the main South Sudanese opposition leader, Dr. Riek Machar, whose views they said were necessary for a successful National Dialogue, but Machar declined to meet them.

It was the second time in a row that Dr. Machar refused to meet the National Dialogue team in South Africa.

“We went to South Africa on the invitation of the Deputy President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa; it was based on our previous visit when we went to see Dr. Riek Machar, who is living in Pretoria,” Mr. Beda told the press.

He explained that when Dr. Machar refused to see them during their first visit three months ago (in June this year), they met with South African government and told them there was a ‘political deadlock’ in South Sudan which hindered the process, the reason why President Salva Kiir initiated the National Dialogue, and the team wanted to meet Dr. Machar.

Responding to the question; what reasons did Machar give the South African deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, who is the South African Envoy to South Sudan that made Dr. Machar refuse to meet the National Dialogue Team?, Mr. Beda said perhaps Machar favours the peace revitalisation process.

“We went first with the aim of meeting Dr. Machar and he refused. There is no particular reason(s), except he just said that he was not coming to see us.”

“I think the reason is that he prefers revitalisation of the Peace Agreement to the National Dialogue. But we said again and again that there is no conflict between the National Dialogue and the revitalization process,” Mr. Beda stressed.

He said the National Dialogue process did not contradict the revitalisation process of the August 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS), which was being spearheaded by the regional security and trade bloc,  the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Responding to question why Dr. Machar’s involvement matters, Mr. Beda said his views were needed for the sake of “inclusivity”, and that he was hopeful that the National Dialogue team would meet Dr. Machar to get his views, which were still needed in the National Dialogue.

“We want to stop the war in South Sudan that is our immediate aim, which is the same aim of the revitalisation. We need everybody, National Dialogue has the principle of inclusivity, you must bring everybody on board—including your opponents—especially the main opposition,” Mr. Beda added.

“Yes, I am hopeful that I will meet Machar if we succeed to go ahead, his people will come and we shall call him, and hopefully he will come. He is one of our leaders,” Mr. Beda asserted.

Speaking to Juba Monitor following their arrival, the head of Communications’ Unit at the National Dialogue Steering Committee, Alfred Logune Taban, who was part of the delegation, described the trip to South Africa as “successful.”

He divulged that they went to Cape Town to harmonise the working relations among them.

“Members of the leadership, Steering Committee and the Secretariat of the National Dialogue went to South Africa with the aim of learning from South African and other nations’ experiences in how to conduct the dialogue. It was meant to internalize the internal regulations,” Taban said.

“It was to  ensure that the leadership, the secretariat and the steering committee work in harmony which was ironed out very well, and in that regard, the trip was very successful, because it was realised that the three (groups) were not working so much in harmony, but now they are working together in total harmony,” Taban disclosed.

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