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SPLM-IO political bureau to meet ‘soon’ to discuss Machar relocation

SPLM-IO founding members (Including Dr Machar the founding leader)  posting for a photo in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa (File photo)
SPLM-IO founding members (Including Dr Machar the founding leader) posting for a photo in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa (File photo)

May 16th 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO)’s Political Bureau is planning to meet ‘soon’ to discuss the insistence of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to relocate their chairman from his current cell in South Africa to Djibouti, high-ranking opposition officials told the Nyamilepedia on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, a high-level diplomatic delegation of the IGAD foreign ministers met the leader of the SPLM-IO in the South African city of Pretoria an discussed with him the possibility of transferring him to Djibouti, a decision Machar and his powerful SPLM-IO membership said would be nothing rather than a change of “jail cell”.

A senior SPLM-IO official who spoke to the Nyamilepedia on the condition of anonymity on Tuesday said the armed opposition movement is planning to convene in the near future to discuss the IGAD plan beside the ongoing High-Level Revitalization Forum which is due to continue on Thursday in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

“The PB will discuss the out come of the IGAD meeting with the Chairman Dr. Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon and [will] decide what would be the way forward” the senior SPLM-IO official told the Nyamilepedia on Tuesday from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Another high-ranking member of the SPLM-IO negotiating team in Addis Ababa told the Nyamilepedia that the group’s powerful organ, the Political Bureau, will also discuss the ongoing High-Level Revitalization Forum in order to inform the IGAD of what would be the last position of the movement on the talks due for Thursday.

“The Political Bureau will sit soon and discuss the High-level Revitalization Forum which is due to continue next tomorrow beside the IGAD decision to relocate the Chairman and the Commander in Chief,” he said on the condition of anonymity.

On Tuesday, IGAD foreign ministers who visited Machar in South Africa could not agree with the armed opposition leader over their plan to relocate him to Djibouti with the later’s insistence that the relocation to another country rather than the venue of the talks (Addis Ababa) would mean a change of “jail cell”.

Manawa Peter Gatkuoth, a member of the SPLM-IO Political Bureau and a member of the group’s negotiating team in Addis Ababa, told the Nyamilepedia that the IGAD meeting with Machar had failed due to IGAD’s insistence to relocate Machar to Djibouti which he said the later regarded as a change of prison cell.

“The meeting between our Chairman and the IGAD Council of Ministers did not go well,” Gatkuoth said pointing out that “the council is still insisting on relocation [of Machar] to Djibouti instead of release.”

Machar has been under house arrest since October 2016 after the regional bloc reportedly asked South African authorities to detain him from leaving the country reportedly in hope to prevent him from taking part in the political crisis in South Sudan in order to stop the war but but in contrary, the war has been raging on since then.

In March, the IGAD decided to release him but the planned release has some demands attached to it which the opposition said do not make sense. The IGAD said Machar must first renounce violence in order to be relocated to one of the country outside the region (neighboring countries). For their part, the opposition said their group under Machar has already signed a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement with the government; something they said shows their group is not interested in violent meant of solving the current crisis.

South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 after forces loyal to the country’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardiit and his then Governor of Northern Bahr Al-Ghazal State Gen. Paul Malong Awan went door-to-door in the capital Juba killing civilians belonging to the Nuer ethnic group sparking a nation-wide protests from top army generals from the Nuer leading to a civil war.

A peace agreement signed in August 2015 by President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar and negotiated under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) in presence of Troika and other international observers collapsed in July 2016 following fighting at the presidential palace in Juba “J1” reportedly after President Kiir ordered a failed attempt to arrest the SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar.

Late last year, the IGAD decided to revive the peace agreement and had initiated a peace revival mechanism known as the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) to bring back to life the 2015 peace agreement. Previous rounds of the HLRF has been unsuccessful and the IGAD said it expect the warring parties to negotiate on the last round of talks on 17th of May which commence tomorrow.

South Sudan government on Tuesday unveiled a long list of delegates to peace talks in the Neighboring Ethiopia while the opposition said they already have their team there. The IGAD has given the negotiating parties May 21st as the ultimatum to sign peace.

It is not clear what would be the consequences in case the warring parties do not meet the dateline.

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