JUBA. — South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Wednesday night granted amnesty to rebel leader Riek Machar, a few days after warring parties signed a power-sharing deal in Sudan.
In a republican order aired on state-owned radio in Juba, President Kiir said the pardon which came after nearly five years of conflict will take immediate effect.
President Kiir also said the amnesty applies to all the other estranged groups that waged war against the country since the conflict broke out in mid December 2013, till the time the security and power-sharing deal was signed in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum on Sunday.
“Republican order number 14 for the year 2018 for the grant of general amnesty to the leader of SPLM-IO Riek Machar Teny and other estranged groups who waged war against the Government of the Republic of South Sudan from 2013 to date,” President Kiir said in his order.
President Kiir reiterated his full commitment to the peace agreement which was signed in Khartoum including the cease-fire and its implementation. He also instructed the army to remain vigilant in their bases and only fight in self-defense.
The South Sudanese leader called on the army and all other organized forces to allow access to humanitarian relief convoy without hindrance.
The latest move by President Kiir came after the regional mediating body, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development lifted Machar’s house arrest in South Africa in June in order to negotiate with President Kiir to end the conflict. President Kiir was strongly opposed to participation of the rebel leader in the transitional period but yielded to regional pressure to appoint Machar as First Vice-President.
He also pledged to incorporate warring factions into the government after he met with Machar and an alliance of opposition leaders.
The deal that was inked in Sudan will lead to the formation of a unity government which will run for three years in South Sudan. The Khartoum agreement was signed collectively by the two leaders as well as all political parties in South Sudan, signaling their desire to end the conflict that has caused a lot of suffering and displacement of people.
South Sudan’s conflict erupted in 2013 after forces loyal to President Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar engaged in combat.
The 2015 peace agreement to end the violence was violated in July 2016 when rival factions resumed fighting in the capital, Juba, forcing Machar to flee into exile.
Millions of South Sudanese civilians have sought refuge in neighboring countries as the conflict rages on. – Xinhua