February 9, 2017 (JUBA)- South Sudan president Salva Kiir has threatened major offensives should the armed opposition continue to reject his calls for national dialogue, as the best approach and viable way to end conflict in the country.
- South Sudanese president Salva Kiir (Photo: Reuters)
“If they don’t listen to the voices which call for peace, I will declare war against them. I don’t think there is anyone of you who will blame me again”, said the South Sudanese leader.
Kiir, speaking at a public rally Tuesday, declared his intention to “exhaust all means of getting peace back to the country, citing national dialogue as one of the means.
“The dialogue I declared recently is one of the means that might bring our people back home. When our parliamentarians return from recess, that is the time we will sit down together so that we talk about how to restore peace," said the president in a speech broadcast on the state-owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation.
President Kiir said there was no other viable alternative to end the ongoing war in the country, apart from resolving existing differences through a national dialogue initiative.
“There are people who believe in war as the only way to resolve differences, I think these are wrong. War is not the viable way to end differences. War is war and you know it is very destructive. I don’t want you, the people of Yei to follow people who think the only solution to whatever issues we have in this country is through war,” he remarked, while addressing a large gathering in South Sudan’s Yei town.
He added, “Let us work together with our religious leaders for peace”.
The president said ending the war will be an opportunity for politicians wanting to take power from him in an atmosphere free of war so that they campaign and allow the citizen to vote peacefully.
“People who want to become of this country have to accept that they cannot become the president when there is war. They need to denounce violence and stop war. When the war is stopped anyone wants to contest whichever positions he wants will be free to contest,” stressed the South Sudanese leader.
“So let’s work together to stop the war and let the political forces sit down to organize themselves so that the parties are registered before time,” he added.
A huge crowd has gathered Yei town to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Episcopal Church in the area.
President Kiir also used the opportunity to announce the national dialogue initiative he declared in December last year, saying it officially starts in the first week of March and will run for four months.
The national dialogue, he said, seeks to end long civil war in Africa’s newest nation.
The South Sudanese leader further reiterated that said a panel of "eminent personalities and people of consensus" would guide the national dialogue process, which would involve "all the people of South Sudan" but did not say who the panel members would be.
“The national dialogue is a matter of urgency so that we see what will be the next step. Now our members of the national legislature are on recess, they will come back in the end of this month, so when they come, we will kick off the sessions of the national dialogue”, he said.
The leader of the country’s armed opposition faction, Riek Machar had dismissed Kiir’s dialogue initiative, saying the process can only succeed if peace was restored in the war-torn nation.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced since violence broke out between the country’s rival factions in mid-December 2013.