- Kiir (R) speaks with Machar during the signing ceremony of the revitalized peace agreement on 12 September 2018 (UNMISS Photo)
September 20, 2021 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir says there is no need for continued fighting in the young nation, three years after his government signed a peace deal with rival factions.
Kiir, his main political rival Riek Machar and other parties signed a revitalized peace agreement mediated by the regional bloc (IGAD) in September 2018 to end more than five years of civil war.
An estimated more than 400,000 people were killed and millions displaced as a result of the violent conflict which erupted in 2013.
Addressing a group of elders on Sunday, however, the South Sudanese leader said he is disturbed by the continuous loss of lives and destruction of properties and authorized his security affairs advisor, Tut Gatluak Manime among others to speak to the splinter group of the armed opposition (SPLM/A-IO) in the Magenis area.
“I have told Riek Machar this thing [fighting in Magenis] needs to stop and let us organize talks”, Kiir told the elders at his residence.
He added, “Fighting is not the only way to ask for something. There are other ways. We can talk to them. So, these days, there are no reports of fighting around areas of Magenis. They have stopped engaging themselves in provocative activities”.
The South Sudanese leader also revealed that he received calls and visits from prominent figures from Shilluk community and from the international community to intervene so that communities in the area could be encouraged to return and engage in agricultural activities instead of turning farms into “hideouts and fighting zones”.
“Now these forests which are used by those carrying arms as their hideouts and combat zones are the farmlands of the communities. The Magenis area is a fertile land for agricultural activities. The Shilluk people have not been in peace because of military activities. If war stops, the displaced and refugees in Sudan and other countries to which they fled will return to their homes and resume normal way of living”, he explained.
Kiir described the Shilluk as peace loving and patriotic people, manifested by the cultural show held in Juba over the weekend.
“As we are talking here, the Shilluk community is conducting cultural show to show the rest their culture and to use it as an opportunity to raise funds for floods which as you know, has affected many parties of this country and the areas of the Shilluk as some of you know are in low land which are submerged by water and heavy rainwater. I have been represented in that show and I am being updated about this function,” said Kiir.
He added, “Now this is what we want our communities to do instead of supporting politicians with power ambition and with ambition to tear our social fabrics down”.
Kiir said he hopes politicians and community leaders and elders from Jonglei and Upper Nile states will use their relations with the Magenis groups to persuade them to opt for dialogue, not war.
Observers, however, say talking to the Kit-Gwang group, who broke away from a faction of Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) under Machar to form a separate group puts Kiir in a difficult to deny reports that he has been working to split Machar’s faction with a view of weakening him and makes him implement the deal in his favour.