South Sudan’s first vice-president, Riek Machar (pictured), will not participate in this year’s national dialogue conference, according to the organisers.
Dr Machar was to participate in the closing ceremony but has withdrawn citing “reservations due to lack of implementation of some provisions of the 2018 revitalised peace agreement”.
The national dialogue, initiated by President Salva Kiir in December 2016, is aimed at discussing solutions to end political and communal violence in the country.
It also seeks to find ways of addressing the fear of political domination by some ethnic groups and resolve resource sharing among all groups.
The co-chair of the conference, Angelo Beda, told the national broadcaster on Monday that Mr Machar’s absence “poses a real challenge that makes it difficult to achieve the objectives of national dialogue”.
“He talked to us at length, saying indeed he likes the national dialogue, but that it is not the right time for the national dialogue to take place,” he said.
There has been tension after President Kiir refused to appoint General Johnson Olony – who was nominated by Mr Machar as governor of the largest oil-producing state of Upper Nile.
President Kiir told Mr Machar to nominate another person, arguing that the general is still commanding armed groups.
But Mr Machar insists Gen Olony remains the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition’s candidate for the gubernatorial position