Former South Sudan rebel chief Dr Riek Machar, has committed to peace in the country, following his two years in exile.
Machar arrived in Juba on Wednesday to celebrate the Revitalised Agreement on the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan.
Machar addressed thousands of people for the first time since 2016, spoke of the need to release all political detainees and open the way for total reconciliation and healing.
Speaking in mixed Arabic and English to the applause of the people who gathered at the mausoleum, Machar said Sudan capital Khartoum has become a hub for peace making.
The SPLM-IO leader commended President Omar al-Bashir “for doing the most difficult task of bringing the warring parties to agree on a revitalized agreement”.
He commended Djibouti and Somalia for the active participation in South Sudan Peace process and also commended the UN secretary General, the TROIKA, IGAD special envoy, the Civil Society – Women and Youth group for pushing everybody to come to peace.
“Peace is in the heart of the opposition and we are ready to implement the revitalised peace agreement,” Machar promised.
Machar fled Juba two years ago when fighting broke out between government troops and his forces forcing him into exile. This is his first time in Juba since he fled.
“Many people came since morning just to see whether these people will really come. We have come. We want to assure you that this peace is in our hearts. We want to implement this peace. We want to assure you that we have a political strategy to return our country to peace,” Machar said.
He added: “There are people who think that I would not come because of what happened in 2016. I left in a very difficult situation. But the most important thing is that we have signed the peace agreement. And we have the agreement, we should hold on to it.”
According to the revitalized peace agreement, the opposition including Machar was expected to be in Juba in 8 months’ time to begin the transitional period.
“The agreement says that we will go to Juba after 8 months, but if there is a celebration like this, who will not come. We must come, why, because if we come after 8 months, some of you will say that these people don’t want peace. We want peace as much as you do,” the opposition leader said.
Machar also reiterated calls for the release of political detainees and lifting of the state of emergency, saying these are signs of peace.
“During the war, there were people who were arrested, some were not tried others were tried. We just want them to celebrate with us this peace. Release them. We want the state of emergency lifted so that people can move freely. This is when people will now that there is peace,” he said.