Machar Under Strict House Detention In Juba — Opposition Army Chief
His comments punch holes in the holding ceasefire.
South Sudan opposition military chief of staff Simon Gatwech Dual has said that the country’s Vice President Riek Machar is under house detention in Juba.
Gatwech who holds the rank of 1st Lieutenant General in the opposition SPLA-IO says his boss is barred from visiting or meeting anyone.
“I can say authoritatively that Dr. Riek Machar is still in prison because he cannot go and visit his forces, his people,” he said.
Gatwech wants Machar to visit troops that have been put in training centers for 13-14 months without being passed out and they have no food supplies to assess the situation. He says that opposition troops are constantly coming under attack from government forces.
“I wrote to the Troika (United Kingdom, Norway and United States), African Union, and IGAD to allow Machar to come visit us in the places where we are currently based,” he said in an interview with local radio Tamazuj.
“I have not received a reply up to now,” he says for his letters to peace brokers, adding: “On the 21st of September 2020, our forces were attacked in Moroto training camp, and on the 28th Forua training center was also attacked. On the 29th another training center was attacked. Then on the 4th of this month, a recce squad of ours was attacked. Yesterday at 5 pm our second headquarters base in Jekou was shelled using artillery pieces. Is this peace?”
In March, South Sudanese Defense Minister, Angelina Teny, who also is wife to former rebel leader told the BBC that her husband’s passport has been confiscated and he is not allowed to travel anywhere in the region or to his constituency.
Teny said that the restrictions have put Machar in a “difficult situation” because he has to be on phone all the time to keep in touch with his forces.
Asked if he is in touch with his boss, Gatwech said; “I am in communication with him.”
“I tell him we have been attacked here and there but he keeps quiet and only replies that it will be resolved? I ask, resolved when?”
He says he is preparing his troops for “self-defense” against further attack.
His comments punch holes in the holding ceasefire negotiated by international and regional actors that has reduced hostilities between government and rebel forces.
Last month, the United Nations special envoy to South Sudan said almost no progress has been made in unifying the country’s warring forces under one army, as promised under a hard-fought peace deal.
The pledge to bring government and rebel soldiers under a national banner was a cornerstone of a September 2018 peace agreement that paused five years of bloodshed in which about 400,000 people died.
But troops brought together at joint training sites across the troubled country have reportedly been deserting because of a lack of food and other essentials.
UN Special Envoy to South Sudan David Shearer warned that there was a risk of renewed violence as soldiers disillusioned with the promise of peace return to their villages hungry and frustrated.