At least 60 people were killed in weekend fighting in Malakal, South Sudan. Rebel leader Riek Machar told DW he remains committed to the peace deal but bemoans a lack of assistance from the international community.
South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar has been talking to DW about his hopes for the peace deal and his future in politics.
DW: Peace has eluded your country and much of the blame has been heaped on you and President Salva Kiir for failing to implement the peace process. Do you accept partial responsibility for this?
Riek Machar: This is not of our making. President Kiir does not want the peace agreement. He does not want to implement it. He clearly stated that he had reservations [about it] even [on] the day that he signed the agreement on the 26 August 2014.
Your movement claims that the international community's failure to enforce the 2015 agreement was a major reason for renewed hostilities.
Machar: Well, in some way it is true. The international community has not seriously assisted us to ensure that this peace agreement is implemented. You know there are a lot of faults that have happened. Even after the July 9th [outbreak of violence] the international community did not condemn it when it is an incident that should be investigated internationally. They were fighting in the Republican Palace; this is the first time it happened. How do you implement a peace agreement when a major party like President Kiir's party plots to kill its first vice president. There was continuous fighting for three days in Juba and the international community did not act. Personally, I called on them to help, to ensure that there is a buffer zone created in Juba so that we could salvage the peace agreement, so that President Kiir and I could talk, but nothing was done.
DW: Have you been in touch with President Salva Kiir?
Machar: We [have] discussed, we were discussing actually up to the 15th of August. My attitude has been we contain the eruption of fighting in Juba so that the peace agreement can be on course. Now the peace agreement has collapsed, the transitional government of national unity has collapsed and we also see that the international community is not keen to look for a solution, for a political process, which might bring about dialogue, so we are seriously concerned.
DW: How do you hope to revive the August 2015 peace deal between the SPLM-IO and the government?
Machar: I want to state clearly that we are committed to the peace agreement. We signed it on the 17th of August in front of [the] international community in Addis Ababa and we went to Juba to implement the agreement. We got attacked in Juba. We were pushed out by the sheer force of arms when we went to implement the agreement. Now that everything has collapsed, we are calling on the international community such as the AU and the IGAD, who were the guarantors of this peace agreement, to think seriously of how it can be resuscitated. Definitely, there is a need for a political process. On the eleventh of this month, [Ugandan] President Museveni was in Khartoum. He called me for a meeting in his hotel and I went to him. We had a discussion and he was throwing up ideas for political initiatives for the resolution of the conflict. I listened and we in the leadership [positions] will discuss the ideas that he had expressed. For that matter, he is the only president in the region that has tried to think of how this conflict could be brought to an end in the shortest possible time.
DW: Would you work with President Salva Kiir - especially as some reports say that you've been banned from engaging in politics in South Sudan?
Machar: There is nobody who can ban me from engaging in politics in South Sudan. I think those who made such statements were deluding themselves. They know that if there is going to be peace, the SPLM-IO and SPLM are going to be involved and there is no other alternative. Getting involved in politics is the right of every citizen in South Sudan.
Rebel leader Riek Machar is a former vice president of South Sudan
Interview: Isaac Mugabi