Kiir urges Machar to return to Juba, vows to respect Vatican retreat

Kiir. Photo: Reuters

Juba, May 14, 2019 (SSNA) — In a speech to lawmakers on Tuesday, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir said he wants the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) leader Dr. Riek Machar to return to South Sudan for the implementation of the September 2018 revitalized peace agreement, saying he forgive him and that the April 2018 Vatican spiritual retreat that was organized by Pope Francis strengthen his views on the peace process.

“I have completely forgiven him and all I ask from him is to become a peace partner, for he is no longer my opponent. In the spirit of this peace deal and our experience in Rome, I once again extend my invitation to Dr. Riek Machar to return home,” Kiir told the parliament on Tuesday.

Kiir’s new call comes barely after the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) extended South Sudan’s pre-transitional period for six months.

In the agreement, all parties to the deal were supposed to form a provisional government on May 12. Last month, Kiir called on Machar to return to Juba so that the two leaders could form a unity government by the dateline stipulated in the treaty. However, the SPLM-IO leader declined and demanded that another six months extension is required to give enough time for implementation of security arguments.

In a recent interview obtained by the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA), Kiir suggested that the six months extension approved by the IGAD is not enough and proposed a one-year extension. It was not immediately clear if his one year extension suggestion was discussed by the East African regional bloc, IGAD.

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