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South Sudan president declines sending Christmas greeting to opposition leader.

December 25, 2015 (JUBA) - South Sudanese president, Salva Kiir, has failed to send a Christmas greeting to former vice-president and armed opposition leader, Riek Machar, as a sign of good gesture and confidence building as well as demonstration of commitment to implementing peace agreement which he signed with Machar in August to end more than 21 months of violent conflict in the country.

South Sudanese president Salva Kiir (L) and former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar (AFP)

A presidential advisor on decentralization and intergovernmental linkage, Tor Deng Mawien, told Sudan Tribune he was not aware president Kiir exchanged greetings with Machar in reciprocity, despite the fact that the opposition leader greeted the president in his Christmas message on the eve of Christmas day on Thursday.

Mawien said Taban Deng Gai, lead negotiator of the peace talks on the side of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) in his meeting with the president twice on Tuesday and Wednesday in Juba had suggested that the two top rival leaders should exchange Christmas greetings but he was not aware if the suggestion materialized on the side of the president.

"That was a suggestion made by Taban Deng Gai when he met the president on Tuesday and I don't know who was to start it," said Mawien, a relative and a close political ally of President Salva Kiir.

"If he (Taban Deng Gai) was serious, he should have asked Riek to call the president and see what the president would say. I know president Kiir would accept greeting from Riek. He is a peace loving and forgiving person," he added.

However, the opposition leader, Machar did sent out the message in which he greeted president Kiir and his government, but there was no reciprocal message from the president.

"On behalf of the SPLM/SPLA and on my own behalf, I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year. We are celebrating this Christmas in peace. The war of the last two years has come to end," Machar announced from his headquarters in Pagak on Thursday evening in the message extended to Sudan Tribune on Friday.

"To reconcile we must also forgive one another. We must end the suffering of our people and work together to ensure the implementation of the agreement to make peace a reality," he urged.

The top opposition leader said the arrival of his 150 officials of the advance team to the national capital, Juba, was a show of commitment to the implementation of the peace deal he and president Salva Kiir signed in August this year.

"Finally, on your behalf, I wish President Salva Kiir Mayardit, the Government and the people of South Sudan a merry Christmas and a happy new year," he said.

In a separate message he issued just eight hours after his first Christmas message, Machar, however said he was surprised after learning in that same Thursday evening that president Kiir instead issued a decree appointing 28 governors to the controversial 28 states he unilaterally created in violation of the peace agreement, a move he condemned and called on Kiir to rescind.

(ST)

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Date:Dec 26, 2015
Words:538
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