JUBA, MAY 17, 2019 (CISA)-South Sudan President Salva Kiir has invited former vice president Riek Machar to return to Juba and work together for peace, saying that he has completely forgiven him in the spirit of their experience in Rome.
In his State of the Nation Address at the National Assembly in Juba, President Kiir said the physical distance between them was an obstacle to peace and caused unnecessary delays in implementing the revitalised peace agreement reached in September last year.
“In the spirit of this agreement and our experience in Rome, I once more extend my invitation to Dr Riek Machar to return home. I have completely forgiven him and all I ask from him is to become a peace partner, for he is no longer my opponent,” he said.
In his speech, President Kiir said he recognized Machar’s apprehensions which he understands, “could not be addressed in his absence; some of these require his physical presence.”
He admitted the country was facing a critical time but promised his government would do everything possible to restore lasting peace in the troubled nation.
“I stand for peace and stability and I completely will reject war,” President Kiir said, terming consolidating peace and stability in the country a, ‘constitutional, moral and religious duty.’
He asked government and opposition forces to open corridors in their areas of control for free movement of people, goods, and services.
“I call upon armed oppositions to work in concert with the national army to continue to open corridors for freedom of movement of our citizens and to open trade routes. Peace in our local communities can only be experienced when citizens can move and trade freely.”
“It is therefore important to open all roads and rivers to facilitate trade and movement of people and goods,” he said.
President Kiir and Dr Machar signed a peace deal in 2018 but failed to form a new government as stipulated in the agreement.
The formation of the new unity government was extended by six months to November but President Kiir has reservations that this may not be possible in less than a year.
He has however pledged to hand over power should he be defeated in an election.