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Ex-Canadian envoy to South Sudan regrets Machar’s forced return to Juba in 2016

South Sudan opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar arrivign at Juba International Airport on April 26th 2016 (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

November 7th 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – A former Canadian envoy to South Sudan has regretted the international community’s decision to force SPLM-IO leader Dr. Riek Machar Teny to return to Juba in April 2016 despite indications that the situation would not be safe for him.

In August 2015, Machar signed a peace agreement with President Salva Kiir and as part of that agreement, he was appointed in February 2016 as First Vice-President while he was on visit to Egypt.

The main armed opposition leader whose return to Juba was expected since January that year finally returned to Juba on April 26th – the first of its kind since fleeing the capital in December 2013 –after pressure from regional and international community who were then angry with him for delaying his return.

As part of the agreement dubbed as Agreement for Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS), thousands of Machar’s forces were to be deployed in Juba. However, only a small fraction of that force was only in place when Machar was forced to return in April.

Machar had said that he would not return to Juba unless all his forces are deployed because he was concerned with his security. However, with Kiir insisting that he return and the remaining forces be transported to Juba once he is there, the international community turned its eyes on Machar pressuring him to return or face designation as peace spoiler.

Ambassador Nicholas Coghlan who has been representing Canada in Juba since 2012 was one of those international envoys whose countries wanted Machar to return to Juba despite warnings about his security.

He said in in a tweet on Wednesday that the international community did mistakes when they failed to force President Salva Kiir to retract on the creation of the controversial 28 states (now 32). He also said forcing Machar to return to Juba was the biggest mistake the international community did.

“[Two] of the biggest mistakes South Sudan-based diplomats (I was one) made [between] 2014 [and] 2016: (a) failing to denounce creation of the 28 states as egregious violation of the ARCISS; (b) pressing Machar to return when we all knew it wasn’t safe. First was politically disastrous, [the second] cost lives,” he said.

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