Riek Machar, South Sudan’s ex-First Vice President-turned-rebel leader was denied entry into Khartoum airport in Sudan, a military spokesman for his rebel group confirmed to Anadolu Agency Tuesday.
“Our chairman attempted to go to Sudan but he was barred from traveling and told to return back to South Africa,” Col. Dickson Gatluak spokesman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) told Anadolu Agency.
Machar who has been receiving treatment in South Africa, traveled to Sudan via Ethiopia on Sunday but was barred from entering the country and forced to return to Johannesburg on Monday.
“It’s true, we can confirm that Machar is back in South Africa,” Clayson Monyela, spokesman for South Africa’s Foreign Affairs Ministry told Anadolu Agency Tuesday.
He added South Africa was committed to finding solutions to the South Sudan conflict.
Commentators have expressed surprise that Sudan, widely viewed as a backer of Machar, had barred him from entering the country.
Last week, the U.S. proposed that Machar, South Sudan’s army chief Paul Malong and Information Minister Michael Makuei face sanctions for fueling the conflict in the world’s youngest nation.
The proposal would see Machar and others face a travel ban and an asset freeze.
Gatluak the SPLM-IO spokesman, said he did not believe that blocking Machar from traveling will resolve the current crisis in South Sudan.
“This unceremonious treatment that we never expected from the region cannot bring peace to South Sudan; any hard approach taken against one peace partner can only intensify the war,” he said.
The war between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir’s mostly ethnic Dinka forces and the rival Nuer led by Machar ran from December 2013 until a peace deal was reached in August last year.
In April, Machar returned to Juba to join a unity government led by Kiir but after fighting broke out between their factions in July he fled the country and was replaced by Taban Deng as first vice president.
Tens of thousands of people were killed and more than two million were displaced during the violence.
Source: World Bulletin