With a price on his head, former South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar has been reluctant to return to South Sudan.
This is despite the recent signing of a peace deal that seeks to end a civil war that has lasted almost five years. Machar, until recently, has been under house arrest in South Africa where he sought refuge in 2016.
With President Kiir’s granting of amnesty to all rebels, Machar included, there is no reason for Machar not to return to Juba to take up his duties as one of the five vice presidents agreed in the peace deal. In as much as the amnesty is genuine, it signals a fresh start and new dawn for troubled South Sudan. There have been several false starts following previous peace deals that floundered even before the ink on the paper dried. Africa’s youngest nation craves peace after years of civil war that has claimed more than 10000 lives while displacing millions of innocent citizens within. The eight month transitional period before the country holds democratic elections should be put to good use.
Building trust and respect for each for the good of the oil rich country is the way forward. It is ironical that South Sudan should be so poor yet it sits on an abundance of oil that could benefit it.
With blood on both their hands, Mr. Kiir and Machar must chose peace over violence and destruction. Civilian killings should not be tolerated any more.