London-South Sudan’s opposing army factions participated in a cabinet meeting held in Juba and attended by South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, amidst the absence of First Vice President, Riek Machar.
This is the first cabinet meeting following the bloody events in the capital Juba in which Machar accused the governmental forces of attempting to murder him at the State House and refused to return to the capital before security issues are addressed.
Hassan Ramadan Laku, executive director in the office of Riek Machar, said that the movement members participated in the meeting following the guidelines of Machar to affirm commitment to implementing the peace agreement.
From his part, Taban Deng Gai, mining minister and head of the rebel delegation, said that there have been some problems in Juba in the past days but they are over now and everyone should get back to work. Gai added that there is no other option but cooperating with Kiir to implement the peace agreement and settle stability in the country.
In a statement broadcasted on the state-run television, Gai denied knowing the location of Machar but he called him for quickly returning to Juba. He also said that the opposition fractions have wide stake of supporters and is not controlled by individuals; thus anyone who breaches the law will be called to account.
This statement represents a major step by one of the basic rebel leaders.
In the same context, President Kiir’s Press Secretary Ateny Wek Ateny said that Kiir knows not the location of Machar but he carried out a phone call with him, earlier, but he latter refused to return to Juba.
Ateny rejected information that the government prevented five American nationality holders from leaving the county, emphasizing that the airport and borders are both open. Ateny added that given the exceptional conditions some strict security procedures were taken only in the first days of the turbulence.