NewsEast & Horn AfricaSouth Sudan: Riek Machar wants Uganda's Museveni to play bigger role


Posted on Monday, 25 January 2016 16:24

South Sudan: Riek Machar wants Uganda's Museveni to play bigger role

By Crystal Orderson in Cape Town

Riek Machar says he'll only return to Juba if he is named first vice president. Photo©ReutersSouth Sudan rebel leader, Riek Machar says he would only return to the country's capital, Juba when President Salva Kiir's government has met all agreements around constitutional reform.

Speaking at his residence in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, Machar told The Africa Report on Monday that he wants Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to play a "bigger role" in the peace talks and assist them with some the major outstanding issues in the implementation of the South Sudan peace agreement.

I can only go back to Juba when I am the first vice president, then I will go

The agreement was signed in August last year and now many fear the pact is at risk.

Machar was speaking to the media ahead of the meeting with Museveni and left Addis Ababa shortly after to meet with the Ugandan president in that country's capital, Kampala.

The former South Sudanese vice president said he believed Kampala could play a more "crucial role" regarding the stalemate on the creation of 28 states. "We are committed to 10 states and we want a reversal of the order of expansion of states from 10 to 28," he said.

Machar's visit to Uganda is his first since conflict in Africa's youngest state exploded in December 2013.

The opposition leader gave the press briefing shortly after his arrival from his headquarters in Pagak, where he had consultations with senior members, who he said were in "agreement that there cannot be more than 10 states".

Machar also warned that lasting peace will not be achieved if Kiir insisted on 28 states.

Analysts point out that this issue has become a major stumbling block and threatens the implementation of the peace agreement signed by the feuding parties.

Machar said that the transitional government of national unity "cannot be formed while there is no constitution".

He said an amendment of the constitution should first be finalised then be passed by the interim national assembly, thereby forming a transitional government of national unity.

When asked when he would return to Juba, he said: "I can only go back to Juba when I am the first vice president, then I will go. No I cannot go there now."

The conflict in South Sudan erupted between forces loyal to Kiir and those backing the former vice president. The violence has displaced millions, while thousands have been killed in the conflict.

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