July 30, 2014 (GAMBELLA) – Military officials of the South Sudanese rebel group led by former vice-president Riek Machar have asked for a neutral country to host the main base of the members of the Monitoring and Verification Team (MVT), accusing president Salva Kiir’s government of harassing their component in Juba.
- SPLA soldiers sit in a pick-up in the key north oil city of Bentiu after capturing it from rebels on 12 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Simon Maina)
Speaking to Sudan Tribune by phone from the Ethiopian regional capital Gambella on Wednesday, Colonel Daniel Gatbel Kuach said their six-member team would not return to the South Sudanese capital, Juba, because of insecurity and mistreatment they had been experiencing as rebels representatives.
“We have decided not to go back to Juba because the government does not respect our status as members of the MVT. We have experienced continuous harassments and restrictions to our movements,” Colonel Kuach told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
He said the other five members who represent the rebel group in the MVT set-up in Juba included Brig Gen Gatkhor Gatluak, Col. Gathon Jual Riek, Col. Koang Thor, Col. Wang Chany and Col. Paul Gatnor.
Col. Kuach cited as an example a publicised incident in Juba last month in which he and his other colleague, Colonel Gathon Jual, were detained at Juba International Airport by security operatives while attempting to board a plane en route to Addis Ababa in order to participate in a training organized by IGAD.
Their passports, he said, were also confiscated at the airport. They were released after intervention of the chairperson of the MVT in Juba.
Kuach said there is need to relocate the base from South Sudan to a neutral country where members of the government and rebels can be equally respected and facilitated.
He revealed that their team had already presented the concerns to IGAD mediation for consideration.
MVT is a mechanism set up by the IGAD mediation to monitor and verify the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement signed on 23 January between the government and the rebel faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-In-Opposition).