South Sudan’s main opposition party currently in a power-sharing government with President Salva Kiir has declared the end of its armed struggle as it reorganizes to participate in the upcoming elections scheduled for 2022.
Regina Joseph, secretary general of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) led by First Vice President Riek Machar said they have started the process of transitioning towards a viable political party.
“This brings an end to the armed struggle starting a phase of political participation,” Joseph told party officials on Saturday at the end of the three-day annual conference of the party in Juba.
The SPLM-IO waged an armed rebellion against Kiir’s government starting in December 2013 after a political disagreement between the two leaders caused a split within the army leading to soldiers loyal to the respective leaders to fight.
The conflict that lasted about six years killed tens of thousands and displaced millions of people both internally and externally.
“This conference today has set a stepping stone for our movement to start the process of transitioning towards a viable political party.
Therefore, the SPLM-IO secretariat has launched its functions in the country as we are now working on restructuring of the political bureau and national liberation council,” said Joseph.
She also said that the SPLM-IO remains committed to implement the 2018 revitalized peace agreement it signed with the government in Ethiopia.
“SPLM-IO came back to South Sudan to implement the peace agreement, so we are committed to this peace agreement as the only best option for sustaining peace in our country. Despite all these challenges, we are moving forward with the implementation of the agreement,” said Joseph.
Meanwhile, Machar while closing the conference said they are working with President Kiir to first put in place a unified army command to oversee the eventual unification of opposition and government soldiers to take charge of security during the transitional period.
He also noted that once all this is done, the region and international community will avail necessary support to the transitional unity government which is in dire need of financial support amid cash crunch caused by economic hardship.