July 14, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – A senior official of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) said he was misquoted in the media about a “stupid” comment that he allegedly uttered against South Sudan’s rival leaders.
- South Sudan’s rebel leader, Riek Machar Teny, and his delegation posing a picture with Djibouti president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, at the State Palace, Djibouti,July 13, 2014 (ST)
Mahboub Maalim, IGAD executive secretary, on Monday expressed regret to the South Sudanese rebel leader, Riek Machar, in Djibouti in which he explained he never said such an “uncivilized” remark, blaming the media for misquoting him.
The official was quoted in the media last month as saying the two leaders, president Salva Kiir and his rival Machar were stupid if they thought they would end the war militarily.
The envoy allegedly spitted out the insult directly to the delegation of the South Sudanese government while in a heated argument with them in Addis Ababa on ceasefire modalities in the IGAD-mediated peace talks.
Machar’s spokesperson told Sudan Tribune the official refuted having made such a comment in a meeting with his boss in Djibouti on Monday.
“Ambassador Maalim met our chairman Dr Riek Machar in Djibouti on Monday. He refuted the comment which was attributed to him in the media. He also regretted the inconveniences the allegation has caused,” the rebel leader’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, said on Monday.
“He [Maalim] said such a comment was “uncivilized” which a diplomat could not use against the leaders,” Dak further said.
The Djiboutian diplomat immediately visited Juba on 17 June after the media circulated the alleged comment, but was reportedly prevented from meeting president Kiir.
South Sudanese government also boycotted the peace talks in protest of the alleged insult in which president Kiir wrote a letter to the IGAD chairman and Ethiopian prime minister, Haile Mariam Desalegn, demanding an official apology.
Dak said the meeting between Machar and Maalim also discussed the ongoing mediation process and its modalities.
SPLM TO ATTEND IGAD SUMMITS
The rebels spokesperson said the opposition leader and IGAD envoy agreed on the importance of representing SPLM [in opposition] in IGAD regional summits whenever issues pertaining to South Sudan are part of agenda.
“Representation of SPLM [opposition] in the regional summits is very important in order to avoid making disputable decisions in absence of our representatives. Such non-inclusive consensuses in which resolutions on South Sudan are passed by IGAD in the absence of SPLM always risk further disputes,” he said.
He said the envoy saw the proposal as genuine, adding that the matter would however be finalized with the IGAD chairman and prime minister of Ethiopia.
Dak further revealed that the SPLM in opposition has assigned a representative to Djibouti on Monday as the rebel leader concluded his three-day diplomatic tour to the IGAD member country.
“The visit to Djibouti was a great opportunity. Dr Machar and president Ismail Omar had a prolific consultation on the need to support the peace process and end the war,” he said, adding that the visiting delegation also met with other senior government officials in the country.
He said a representative for his group was accepted in the country.
“We now have a representative in Djibouti. Dr Gatwech Koang Thich is accepted to represent SPLM in Djibouti,” he further disclosed.
Gatwech, who holds a PhD in petroleum engineering, was previously in charge of oil pipelines department in the ministry of petroleum and mining in South Sudan.
THREE OIL PIPELINES
Earlier, the rebel group expressed the desire for future constructions of two additional oil pipelines, one to port Mombasa in Kenya and the other to port Djibouti via Ethiopia.
Dak said the two other pipelines would be in addition to the current pipeline to Port Sudan, adding there is promising huge oil reserves in South Sudan as well as other exports and imports by the landlocked country, justifying the need to access three river ports.
“The plan to have three oil pipelines to the different river ports is necessitated by the geographical locations of such oil reserves and proximity to the respective neighbouring countries. There is also need to access the three river ports by either roads or railways for the purposes of exports and imports,” he further explained.
“South Sudan is the size of Kenya, Uganda and Burundi combined,” he said.
Currently there are oil reserves in the three states of Unity in the north, Upper Nile in the northeast and Jonglei in the southeast, all in the former greater Upper Nile region.
Machar spokesperson further said the rebel group wanted the war to come to a speedy end together with the “tyranny and corruption” in Juba so that a governance system that would be based on a constitutional democratic federal state should be installed and usher in development.
President Kiir however expressed reservation on adoption of federalism, warning officials in his government to stay away from such demand, which he dismissed as a strategy used by the rebel leader to split and dismantle the “internal front.”
Machar while marking the third anniversary of independence on 9 July called on the South Sudanese people to join the resistance movement and dismantle dictatorship with its accompanying “ills” in the young country.
He returned to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Monday.