December 13, 2016 (JUBA) - South African authorities have confined the former First Vice-President and leader of the rebel SPLM-IO, Riek Machar, in a residence outside Pretoria in order to prevent him from leaving the country again.
- South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar addresses a press conference in his private residence in Addis Ababa, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (Photo AP/Mulugete Ayehe)
Machar embraced the South African government when he reached Khartoum and Addis Ababa on 21 November without their information, while he was hosted there on regional and international demands to prevent the escalation of the fighting in the troubled South Sudan.
According to Reuters "Machar was being held "basically under house arrest" near Pretoria with his movements restricted and his phone calls monitored and controlled.
"If he wants to go to the toilet, he has to hand over his phone and a guy stands outside the cubicle," a well informed source stressed in his to Reuters.
However, South African Foreign Ministry spokesperson Clayson Monyela denied that Machar was being held, adding he is a "guest" of Pretoria to prevent the civil war sliding into genocide.
"Him being our guest here is part of our responsibility as a mediator," Monyela told Reuters, adding that it was "difficult to predict" the duration of his stay. "It’s very hard to put timelines on these peace and security situations."
Last August, Machar left a United Nations base in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo on a Sudanese plane to Khartoum. The UN and the Sudanese government said they intervened on humanitarian grounds.
But in October, following consultations between the IGAD countries Pretoria and Washington it was decided to keep him far from the region to prevent a civil war in the country.
According to Reuters, "the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, an eight-country East African group, had asked Pretoria to make sure Machar did not leave. The United States, Britain and Norway had supported that request".
"He keeps going back and mobilising his people and stirring up problems," a source told Reuters. "It’s best to keep him here for a while."