25th January 2021
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IGAD pushes for ‘release’ of Dr Machar

Author: Daniel Danis | Published: Tuesday, November 17, 2020

President Kiir and Dr. Machar hold talks in Khartoum | File photo

The Inter-governmental Authority on Development in Juba has written to the region to allow freedom of movement of the First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar.

Recently, the SPLA-IO chief of general staff raised concerns over Dr. Machar’s inability to visit troops at the cantonment sites to update them on the implementation of the revitalized peace deal.

Dr. Machar was previously exiled to South Africa, where the IGAD placed him under house arrest.

He was later relocated to Khartoum and finally to Juba to form the new government of national unity with President Salva Kiir.

Some activists believe the region has not yet withdrawn the restrictions it imposed on Dr. Machar in 2017.

Since his return to Juba in 2019, Dr. Machar has not left the country.

He has also not travelled anywhere outside Juba.

According to the IGAD liaison office, it has sought guidance from the chairperson, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, to review any restriction that may have been imposed on the leader of the main opposition group.

“As you know his Excellency the First Vice President of this country is holding a very high office, and by virtue of that, he has all the privileges to move around. It is our belief,” Amb. Tesfaye Negassa, the head of IGAD liaison office, told reporters in Juba on Monday.

He said they have asked the Heads of State to provide an official communication on the status of the First Vice President.

Amb. Negassa said they expect any restrictions of movement to be lifted immediately.

‘As IGAD, we have handled it and IGAD’s Executive Secretary has already written a letter to the IGAD chairperson about his free movements,” he added.

In April 2019, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia issued a verbal note indicating that IGAD had not put any restriction on Machar’s travel to any country of his choice.

This eventually enabled Dr. Machar to travel to the Vatican to attend the spiritual retreat convened by Pope Francis.

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