South Sudan’s national dialogue steering committee says it is still trying to persuade former vice president Riek Machar to join the negotiation process.
The committee said it is yet to receive confirmation of whether or not the exiled strongman will return home to join the peace talks.
Machar is currently holed up in South Africa where he went to seek medical attention last year following clashes between his forces and government troops in July 2017.
The international community has been piling pressure on the world’s youngest nation to resolve the crisis through dialogue.
Earlier this year, President Salva Kiir kick-started a dialogue process he said was aimed at instilling peace across the country. There was however no mention of a return for Machar.
The government has now set conditions for the former first vice president’s return to the country.
“If he denounces violence and decides to come to South Sudan and settle as a citizen, it’s his right, if he comes as a politician, he must renounce violence and come at a time when elections are about to happen and he accepts whatever we agreed upon,” Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth said.
South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 following President Salva Kiir’s accusations that Machar was plotting a coup against his government. Machar denied the allegations but then went on to mobilize a rebel force to fight the government.
The conflict has killed thousands and forced millions to flee their homes. The United Nations earlier this year announced that the country had become Africa’s biggest refugee crisis, and third in the world after Syria and Afghanistan.
A peace deal signed in 2015 stipulated that an election would be held in 2018, but that continues to look unlikely with peace remaining elusive in the country.