September 1, 2016 (JUBA) – The leader of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), Riek Machar, has his health significantly improved and currently resides at a residential area in Khartoum after he was released from hospital in the Sudanese capital, his media official has confirmed.
- South Sudan’s former FVP Riek Machar, speaking to visitors at his residence in Khartoum, on 1 September 2016 (courtesy photo of SPLM-IO)
Machar was being treated from “exhaustion and swollen legs” after he was reportedly nearly assassinated in Juba on 8 July by President Salva Kiir’s forces. His residence in Juba was two days later on 10 July bombed to the ground. He fled the capital but was followed by the ground and air forces into the bushes around Juba and hunted down for over five weeks.
His officials said as a result their leader was exposed to harsh weather of rains, cold and walking through mountainous terrains from Juba until he reached the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
President Kiir days later after dislodging Machar and his small number of troops gave him a 48 hours ultimatum to return to Juba, the failure of which he was fired and replaced with his former chief negotiator, Taban Deng Gai.
Machar’s officials said Gai suspiciously cooked the conspiracy with Kiir prior to the July clashes at the palace to assassinate Machar so that he could take his place and the two new partners could scrap the peace agreement.
Machar successfully crossed into the DRC with some of his political and military leaders from where he was rescued by the United Nations peacekeepers in the country and handed over to the DRC government for treatment and care.
He was days later transferred to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, for further treatment. President Kiir’s officials including Michael Makuei Lueth, information minister, and Gordon Buay, a South Sudanese diplomat, claimed that Machar had severe chest infection and his leg was to be amputated, respectively, in Khartoum.
However, his spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, said the claims were “lies” coming from anti-peace elements who were wishing his leader bad health or even death in order to dismantle the agreement and return the country to the status quo.
“All those comments coming from Juba about his [Machar’s] health are lies. He has fully recovered from the exhaustion and his health is very stable. His previously swollen leg has recovered. He can now walk well. He has been released from the hospital and stays at a resident in Khartoum,” James Gatdet Dak told Sudan Tribune on Thursday.
“He has been receiving visitors at his resident, meeting them and his officials in Khartoum,” he added.
He however added that Machar may soon begin to visit a number of African countries to consult on the “collapsing” peace deal.
SPLM-IO NOT RESPONSIBLE
Dak said the opposition faction, SPLM-IO, which signed the August 2015 peace agreement with President Kiir is not responsible for the renewed war in the country, blaming Kiir for sparking the war when he attempted to “assassinate” Machar at the presidential palace in Juba, attacked his residence and hunted for him in the bushes as well as illegally removing him from the “peace partner position as First Vice President.”
He claimed that President Kiir’s forces have currently been on offensive against the SPLA-IO forces in the country.
“We are not responsible for the collapse of the peace agreement and the renewed war in the country. President Kiir and his group are responsible. Maybe their plan was to sign the agreement halfheartedly in order to lure Dr. Riek Machar to Juba and kill him. But this is not how peace is achieved, it is rather how violence is perpetuated,” he said.
He explained that fighting has been going on in Central and Eastern Equatoria states this week, including fierce clashes which took place on Thursday at New Site in Kapoeta area.
He also said there is fighting along Juba-Yei road, skirmishes on Juba-Nimule road, and clashes around Renk in Upper Nile, in Nasir and in Jonglei state. All of these, he said, are due to attacks by government forces against their positions.