Bor — South Sudan's vice president, Riek Machar, has urged Murle community elders and leaders to persuade their young men siding with David Yau Yau to desert his rebellion.
During a visit to Jonglei's capital Bor on Sunday, Machar said that disarmament process in Pibor county is about to recommence after months of suspension.
"The government wants to look at the measures to be taken to make sure that civil populations are not affected", Machar said.
The vice-president said he planned to consult with Murle leaders on whether they are "ready to persuade the youth to come back", otherwise the army would move to force disarmament in rebellious areas of Pibor.
"We want to understand the views, if disarmament is done, how will it affect the civil population, we want to secure the population, we don't want to put the people at risk", the vice-president told the press at Bor airport.
He called upon community members of Pibor county to cooperate with civilian authorities and the army, by handing over their guns voluntarily "so that the place can be secured properly".
Peace process with Yau Yau in Pibor
Two weeks ago, elders, intellectuals and members of parliament representing Murle communities in both Juba and Jonlgei assemblies, were in Pibor to lobby for Yau Yau to join peace negotiations with South Sudan's government.
The rebel leader is suspected to be living around Nanaam River in the east of Pibor county.
In April last year, Yau Yau launched his second rebellion after taking sick leave to travel from Juba to Nairobi. Instead he proceeded to Khartoum from where it is believed he began to send in his supporters to recruit young men in Pibor in August.
Machar visited Bor on his way to Pibor with South Sudan's defence and veteran affairs minister, John Kong, health minister Michael Milly Hussein, deputy minister of commerce, industry and investment Kengen Jakor, minister of humanitarian affairs and disaster management, Joseph Lual Acuil, among others, to find out if Yau Yau had agreed to enter peace talks with the government.
"[A member of the council of states,] Ismael Konyi and the deputy minister of commerce, industry and investment Kengen, had been part of the mediation process, they made contacts with Yau Yau. This time, we are going together, to get the new reports. If Yau Yau has accepted to talk, then we will see so that the process can kick off", the VP said as he waited to board the plane in Bor.