May 16, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement In Opposition (SPLM-IO) leader Riek Machar has declined the decision of the IGAD to move him to another country, reiterating his demand to allow him to circulate freely, said the Sudanese acting foreign ministry
On Tuesday a delegation from the IGAD Council of Ministers led by the Ethiopian State Minister of Foreign Affairs Hirut Zemene met with Machar to discuss their decision of last March to lift his confinement in Pretoria and to move him to any country out of the IGAD countries and not a neighbour to South Sudan.
In a statement released in Khartoum, the spokesperson of the Sudanese foreign ministry Gharib Allah Khidir said the delegation which included Sudan’s Ambassador to Pretoria listened to Machar’s ideas on the structure of the government institutions, the parliament and the number of states in South Sudan.
Khidir further said that the three hour-meeting in Pretoria discussed with the former first vice-president the IGAD’s resolution to move him to another country as they wanted to get his point of view and eventually the country he prefers to reside in line with the decision.
“For his part, Dr Machar expressed his desire to be unconditionally free in his movement and his choice, preferring to continue residing in South Africa despite his inability to circulate or communicate, until he gets a better decision than the offered one,” said the statement.
South Sudanese government sought to convince the IGAD and South African to keep Machar in Pretoria saying his return would contribute to the continuation of the war in the country.
Also, Juba criticized the IGAD decision to end his confinement in South Africa saying his participation in the peace process would “frustrate the momentum and confidence being gradually built by the negotiating teams”.
In a statement released in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian foreign ministry said the meeting with Machar was part of the Shuttle diplomacy by the IGAD council to bridge the gap between the parties to the peace forum -HLRF”.
The peace revitalization forum will resume in Addis Ababa on May 17, 2018.
The IGAD Council members were recently in Juba for similar exchanges with the South Sudanese government on the outstanding issues in the revitalization process particularly the power-sharing during the transitional period and the security arrangements.
Machar has been residing in South Africa since October 2016.