S.Sudan’s presidential spokesman says “no space” for Machar

President Salva Kiir’s spokesman has said that Mr. Machar “has no space here”, and should not return to the country before elections in 2018.

Mr. Machar, who had become vice president as part of a peace deal, fled the country following heavy fighting in the capital Juba in July.

But on Monday he vowed to return.

Speaking from South Africa, Mr. Machar said his rebel faction could still negotiate a peace deal with President Kiir.

In July, Mr Machar’s bodyguards and President Salva Kiir’s presidential guards fought each other, sparking days of violence.

Hundreds of people died and more than 100,000 fled across the border.

The fighting erupted less than a year after a peace deal was signed to form a unity government and end the civil war.

President Kiir’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said that Mr. Machar “will look for his space as a citizen of South Sudan, but not as a political leader”.

Referring to the elections planned for 2018, Mr Wek said: “I don’t think that he (Riek Machar) can even think to come (back) before that.”

“It is better that Riek Machar stays away from South Sudan political scenes,” the spokesman added.

Both President Kiir’s and Riek Machar’s followers have been accused of perpetrating atrocities during the country’s bitter civil conflict.

More than 2.5 million people in South Sudan have been displaced since December 2013.

 

BBC/Zainab Sa’id