South Sudan’s presidential spokesman has issued a rebuke to sacked Vice-President Riek Machar, who is currently in exile in South Africa, having fled the capital, Juba, in July.
Ateny Wek Ateny told the BBC’s Focus on Africa radio that he “felt sorry” for Mr Machar, who told the BBC earlier that half of the country was still in the hands of his SPLM-IO rebel forces.
The government controls 95 or 99.9% [of territory]… He is trying to fool those who are not aware of the map of South Sudan.
“I felt sorry for him, because if his forces were controlling half the country…. he wouldn’t have left Juba.”
Asked whether Mr Machar could still negotiate a peace deal with President Salva Kiir, the spokesman said that that stage had passed “a long time ago” and the government no longer even considered him to be the leader of the SPLM-IO.
On Mr Machar’s vow to return to the country, Mr Ateny said:
If he wants to come back to South Sudan, he should only come back to South Sudan after 2018, when the transitional government of national unity has come to an end and the election is called.”