December 5, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour Monday confirmed that his country had denied entry to former South Sudanese First Vice President and SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar by the security service at Khartoum airport last November.
- South Sudan’s FVP, Riek Machar, departing from Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa to Pretoria, South Africa, 14 February 2016 (SPLM-IO courtesy photo)
On 21 November, Ethiopian authorities prevented Machar from crossing into the SPLM-IO headquarters in Pagak, near the border between South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Following what Machar had flown to Khartoum but the authorities refused to allow him to enter into the country and sent him back to Addis Ababa before to return again to Johannesburg.
On Monday, Ghandour was the first Sudanese official to confirm Machar denial to enter into the country.
The Sudanese foreign minister told reporters that Machar had been stopped at the airport and returned back because ’’he had no entry visa’’.
Last August, Sudanese government dispatched a plane to the Democratic Republic of Congo to transport Machar to Khartoum after clashes between his troops and forces loyal to the government of President Salva Kiir in Juba last July.
At the time, Sudanese authorities said Machar was in Khartoum for medical reasons. His stay was managed by the National Intelligence and Security People (NISS) which protected him before to leave for South Africa.
Juba at the time protested his presence in Khartoum and asked to expel him. However in October he travelled to South Africa, reportedly after regional and international arrangement to keep him far from the region and prevent the resumption of war in the troubled country.
Last November, the United States submitted a draft resolution to the United Nations Security council to impose travel ban on Machar and freeze his assets together with SPLA chief of Staff Paul Malong and Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth.
Machar “declared war on the South Sudanese government and called for armed resistance” following what “forces allied with Machar have raided villages and abducted civilians and aid workers,” said the draft resolution.
In a statement released on 25 September, following a leadership meeting held in Khartoum, the SPLM-IO called to wage war on the “regime” in Juba under President Salva Kiir.
Different sources told Sudan Tribune that SPLM-IO members in Khartoum are under pressures from the Sudanese authorities and they are asked to not conduct any political activities hostile to Juba.
According to unconfirmed reports, NISS arrested SPLM-IO Representative in Khartoum Gatbang Riir Puk, after press statements to a local newspaper.
Other sources in Khartoum close to Puk said he was just asked to move away from the capital and to avoid speaking to the media or issuing press statements.
However, the rebel official remains unreachable in Khartoum.
South Sudanese officials said they have asked Khartoum to arrest Machar’s supporters and the deport them to Juba in line with a recent deal agreed by the two countries to expel rebel groups and to implement fully the security arrangements of the Cooperation Agreement.