Deposed South Sudan first vice president Riek Machar has fled the capital Juba to exile in Nairobi Kenya.
“The Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of the SPLM/SPLA (IO), Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, has been successfully relocated to a neighboring country today, August 17, 2016, after one month of stay in the bushes around Juba,” his spokesman James Gatdet Dak confirmed.
“He is currently safe! He has assured of the leadership’s commitment to change the status quo in the country,” Dak said.
According to Dak, this comes after 40 days of hiding in the bushes (wilderness) during which President Kiir and his “anti-peace” army used every type of weapon in their possession in South Sudan to eliminate H.E. Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, right from the Palace in Juba; in his residence in the suburb of Juba (Jebel) and then followed into the bushes around Juba, with tanks and helicopter gunships, tens of thousands of ground forces and hired foreign experts with technology to locate his exact location.
“However, God and our mighty courageous fighters managed to keep him safe when our Mighty fighters crashed the ground forces of President Kiir and have subsequently successfully relocated our leader to a neighbouring country where he will now have unhindered access to the rest of the world and the media.”
His relocation on Wednesday, August 17, 2016, also marked the First Anniversary of his signing of the IGAD brokered Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) on August 17, 2015, in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
“We thank our courageous fighters for failing President Kiir and General Paul Malong Awan from the ruthless attempt to kill our leader.
The rebel leader turned first vice president fled Juba last month after his base in Juba was bombed by troops loyal to President Kiir.
The president afterward decreed Machar’s removal from the post of first vice president but Machar’s supporters claim he is still the “legitimate” VP and the effort to remove him is a violation of the peace deal signed last year.
Mabior Garang, the SPLM-IO spokesman who was appointed to a ministerial post earlier this year but has now returned to exile in Kenya, confirmed to Radio Tamazuj the ‘evacuation’ of Machar to another country, saying also that he would hold a press conference within the next 24 hours.
He referred to a “botched attempt to assassinate the legitimate First Vice President” – presumably a reference to the violence in and around Juba last month, during which Machar’s bodyguards clashed with Kiir’s leaving hundreds dead.
Machar had been allowed to bring several hundred troops into Juba to stay at designated sites under the terms of a peace deal signed in August 2015.
None of his troops remain in the city any longer and the government says it will not accept for them to return, according to Tamazuj.