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SPLM-IO calls for Machar immediate release

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

November 10, 2017 (ADDIS ABABA) - The office of the SPLM-IO in Tanzania Friday appealed on the regional bodies and the international community to immediately push for the immediate release of the opposition group’s leader, Riek Machar, so that he can fully participate in any political process to end the four-year war in the country.

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South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar looks on during an interview at his residence on August 31, 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Photo AFP /Zacharias Abubeker)

In October 2016, Machar left Khartoum to Pretoria for medical treatment as it had been announced at the time but when he returned to region seeking to join his troops near the Ethiopian border the rebel leader was forced by Addis Ababa to fly back to South African where he is confined there.

Since, it appeared that the confinement had been decided by the IGAD countries in consultations with Juba and the international community in a bid to prevent the resumption of hostilities after the collapse of the implementation of the peace agreement and the eruption of clashes in Juba in July 2016.

"What wrong has he done? We need an answer to this question. Detaining a peace lover does not bode well with the spirit of promotion of peace and stability in the world. My Chairman commands a majority of supporters inside and outside the country and therefore it would be a very grave mistake for anybody in the region or the wider international community to sideline him from any political process to end the crisis," said Peter Oyoyo kleto, the armed opposition group’s deputy representative to Tanzania.

He went further to say that Machar is not for war but has been calling for a sustainable and comprehensive peace that leads to democratic reforms and create the needed conditions for political stability in the new nation.

" Chairman His Excellency Dr Riek Machar Teny, Chairman and Commander in Chief of SPLM/A IO has from day one advocated for a peaceful settlement of the conflict and our position on peace and stability in South Sudan has not changed. This is the truth that Juba does not want to the world to know," he stressed.

The rebel official condemned he alleged the government military offensives in many parts of the country in violation of the ceasefires despite the recent renewal of a unilateral ceasefire announced by the government.

"This is what we have been telling the region and the wider international community on various occasions that the regime in Juba is well known for saying one thing and doing a totally different thing," kleto said.

Referring to the IGAD proposed peace revitalization forum, he said all the opposition groups in South Sudan are ready to take part in the regional efforts to end the crisis, pointing that war would not bring an end to the ongoing conflict.

"In light of all these, the August 2015 peace agreement needs to be resuscitated in order to prevent South Sudan from total collapse and disintegration into tribal enclaves," he said.