South Sudan

Kiir grills Congo envoy over Machar-Kabila links

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The government of President Salva Kiir on Wednesday summoned the Congolese ambassador to Juba after reports that his government received and even treated deposed vice president Riek Machar.

According to National Courier, the South Sudan ministry of Foreign Affairs said it summoned the DRC Ambassador René Ilume Tembele to explain how the “rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar crossed into Congo and Airlifted by the UN”.

The Ministry also sought an explanation “how the three UN military Aircraft crossed into South Sudan Airspace from DRC on 17th and 20th August 2016 and dropped unknown supplies” to the IO-ITB rebels inside South Sudan “without approval of the authorities in the Country”.

Meanwhile, diplomat Gordon Buay, released images allegedly of the rebel leader taken in Congo.

The United Nations confirmed through their spokesman in New York that it airlifted Riek to safety in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Farhan Haq told reporters, “We have been providing him with whatever medical assistance he needs.”

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“He needed to be moved safely from one spot to another,” he added. Haq said the UN transported, Riek, his wife and 10 others and handed them over to the Congolese authorities.

An elated Samantha Power, US Ambassador to UN, in April when Riek returned is reportedly said to have reacted to the news saying that Riek’s return is “the best hope that South Sudan has had in a very long time.”

However, reports from RFI quote the Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende saying that Kinshasa was not aware of Riek’s presence nor his treatment in Kisangani hospital.

Kiir’s government, which has always accused UN of siding with Machar, said it had no problem with the rebel chief returning to Juba.

The Minister of Information Michael Makuei said, “the government has no problem with Riek Machar,it has no objection with his extraction”.

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He said that the government had no information and the process was done without its knowledge.

He added that the government was relying on the statement made by the UN.

Makuei said, “if Riek Machar wants to come back to South Sudan, he should denounce violence… so that we don’t go back to war.”

He added that Riek should wait for the elections and abstain from politicking.

Machar later travelled to Khartoum for medical treatment on ‘humanitarian grounds’, according to Sudan’s Minister of Information, Dr Ahmed Bilal Osman.

In a statement received by the Sudan News Agency, Dr Osman announced that Sudan had recently received Riek Machar ”for his need for urgent medical attention for purely humanitarian reasons.”

James Gatdet Dak, Machar’s spokesman, confirmed to Sudan Tribune on Thursday that his boss was released from the hospital after days under the care of the Sudanese government.

“Yes, my Chairman Dr. Riek Machar has been discharged from the hospital in Khartoum. He has regained strength from the extreme exhaustion. His swollen leg has also significantly improved. He can now walk with it, although still slowly,” Dak explained.

IGAD countries, East Africa, and the entire region has been asked to not give Riek any conducive environment that is likely to undermine the stability of South Sudan and the implementation of the peace agreement.’

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