Machar Quits South Sudan
SPLM-IO Chairman Riek Machar, whose supporters continue to call him South Sudan’s ‘legitimate’ first vice president, has relocated out of the country after more than a month during which his whereabouts were undisclosed for security reasons, according to his press representatives in Nairobi.
The rebel leader turned first vice president fled Juba last month after his base in Juba was bombed by troops loyal to President Salva Kiir. The president afterward decreed Machar’s removal from the post of first vice president but Machar’s supporters claim he is still the “legitimate” VP and the effort to remove him is a violation of the peace deal signed last year.
“The Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of the SPLM/SPLA (IO), Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, has been successfully relocated to a neighboring country today, August 17, 2016, after one month of stay in the bushes around Juba,” Machar’s spokesman James Gatdet Dak said on his Facebook page.
However, he neither gave any details on how the relocation was carried, nor to which country he was relocated. “He is currently safe! He has assured of the leadership’s commitment to change the status quo in the country,” said Dak.
Mabior Garang, the SPLM-IO spokesman who was appointed to a ministerial post earlier this year but has now returned to exile in Kenya, confirmed the ‘evacuation’ of Machar to another country, saying also that he would hold a press conference within the next 24 hours.
He referred to a “botched attempt to assassinate the legitimate First Vice President” – presumably a reference to the violence in and around Juba last month, during which Machar’s bodyguards clashed with Kiir’s leaving hundreds dead.
Machar had been allowed to bring several hundred troops into Juba to stay at designated sites under the terms of a peace deal signed in August 2015. None of his troops remain in the city any longer and the government says it will not accept for them to return.
Dak commented further in a second Facebook post this morning saying, “We thank our courageous fighters for failing President Kiir and General Paul Malong Awan from the ruthless attempt to kill our leader.”