During that time, it was only a month shy the much awaited return of the ex-rebel leader to the capital Juba “to implement the peace agreement” signed to cease a brutal civil war in August 2015.
O’Grady says that Machar was still living in a makeshift camp made up of little more than a smattering of tents and a few air conditioned pop-up offices.
His soldiers, in worn-out army fatigues roamed the property in flip-flops, dark circles under their eyes and AK-47 assault rifles slung across their shoulders. One of them stood next to a piece of string intended to act as a security checkpoint, holding a notebook where visitors were supposed to sign in. He didn’t have a pen.
It took more than three hours to get ‘face to face’ with Machar, but as she cross-legged in patience, one young adviser, “wearing a navy blue suit sat and spoke at length about Donald Trump”, then front-runner for the Republican Party nomination in the United States’ and now the ultimate winner of the race.
“He suggested that a leader like Trump could solve South Sudan’s ongoing debate over an attempt by Machar’s rival, President Salva Kiir, to change the country from 10 states to 28,” she wrote.
“We need Donald Trump to solve that problem,” the staffer said with a laugh.
As the interview in which Machar openly banked on hope to implement the now tattered peace deal currently being patched by President Salva Kiir and his controversially appointed Vice president Taban Deng Gai, Machar got underway, he advised American voters to prepare for Trump.
“Now I’m telling them ‘Prepare yourselves! Trump might win!” Machar said.
The reporter says Machar was closely following the highly contested election and wondered what it will mean for his own country’s future.
“Many of his followers believe Machar to be the descendant of an ancient Nuer prophet, so maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he claims to have predicted months ago that Trump would take an easy lead” he wrote.
“Somebody that free discusses anything. People like it. The American people like it!” Machar said between his between laughs.
Machar is currently holed up in South Africa reportedly for medical attention but has since been declared persona non grata in the war-torn country since declaring war on the regime that schemed his exit just months before the peace deal could get on course.
Read Siobhan O’Grady Article