The spokesperson of South Sudan’s First Vice President, Riek Machar said the SPLA-IO has changed location of military base and their leader has been forced to flee Juba due to the intense fighting and threats to his life.
James Gatdet said their forces that had been stationed behind Jebel Kujur, about 5 kilometers southwest of Juba town, including Site 2, had relocated but have remained within the vicinity of Juba.
“Yes, they have relocated the base, but they have remained within the vicinity of Juba area,” Gatdet said on Wednesday.
He said the decision was to avoid further violence with forces loyal to President Salva Kiir. Though the ceasefire which has brought calm to Juba, fighting has reportedly spread to the rest of South Sudan.
Armed men have barricaded the Juba-Nimule highway and are reportedly brutalizing civilians attempting to flee violence into Uganda. Many are robbed of their belongings.
Machar’s residence near his base was also targeted and bombed with helicopter gunships, destroying it. He was not however hurt as his official said he was not inside the house at the time of the bombing.
Gatdet said his boss has remained committed to the peace agreement and ordered his forces to respect the cessation of hostilities he declared earlier.
In an interview with the media, he dismissed reports that Machar was returning to the bush in the same way he did in December 2013 when he was chased out of Juba by Kiir’s forces.
“No, he is not going back to the bush. He only wants to avoid further violence in Juba. Once the necessary security issues are addressed, he will come back to his office in Juba,” he said.