South Sudan gov't promises to protect opposition head

It will be sole duty of South Sudan's president to protect opposition figure if he chooses to return, says government

Benjamin Takpiny   | 19.07.2019
South Sudan gov't promises to protect opposition head Former Vice President of South Sudan, Riek Machar

JUBA, South Sudan

South Sudan has promised protection to opposition leader Riek Machar if he comes back to Juba before the formation of a government of national unity.  

"If he comes, it's the sole duty of President Salva Kiir Mayardit to protect him. If he is welcome, this is his home, he will be protected because he is the only leader of the opposition who has yet to come to Juba," Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth told journalists in Juba after a cabinet meeting.

Makuei said that during negotiations in Addis Abba, the government provided Machar the option of coming to Juba either under its own protection or with that of third party forces.

He underlined that most opposition leaders in Juba had been protecting by government of South Sudan.

"The lifting of Riek Machar's detention is not the doing of the government of South Sudan, it was done by IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development], it's IGAD who took him to south Africa, Ethiopia, Khartoum and its IGAD that brought him here last time and took him back, we have nothing to do with his detention," Makuei added.

He said the conditions put by Machar were his own: "if he wants to keep away and not come it will be up to him, and if he want to come before the end of transition he is free to come."

In a letter dated July 8 and sent to Kiir's security adviser, Tut Gatluak, Machar said he was ready to enter talks with the president to discuss the challenges of implementing the peace deal if certain assurances were made.

He said the terms of his house arrest must be lifted by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

Among the demands, Machar asked Kiir to allow Sudan’s military leader to accompany him to Juba if the regional bloc failed to lift his house arrest.

Machar, who under the terms of the peace agreement is to be reinstated as first vice president, resides in Sudan but cannot travel to the other members of IGAD, an eight-nation security bloc.

He fled into exile in 2016 after heavy clashes in the capital Juba.

According to reports, the five years of fighting between the two leaders crippled the country, with instances of mass rape, millions being displaced and almost 400,000 people dead from violence and disease.

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