Addis Ababa/Pretoria, November 22, 2016 (SSNA) — A senior Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/-In Opposition (SPLM/-IO) official has denied reports that Ethiopian government prevented their leader Dr. Riek Machar from going to rebel headquarters Pagak and that Ethiopian authorities decided to deport the armed opposition leader back to South Africa.
The South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) has confirmed that Dr. Machar did in fact returned to South Africa, but for reasons not related to early reports.
The SPLM-IO official suggests the news was probably given to the media by government propagandists and called it “over-exaggerated piece of information.”
The rebel official said Machar decided to go back to South Africa after failed attempts by his protocol office to secure an entry visa from Addis Ababa. The official went on to say that Ethiopian authorities did not do anything bad, adding that the SPLM/-IO leadership blames itself for failing to coordinate its leader travel plan with the Ethiopian government. The senior armed opposition official also reveals that Ethiopia cites lack of proper coordination as the main reason.
“These are false reports; there is no such a thing that our leader was arrested and extradited back to South Africa,” the official who prefers anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media told the SSNA in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
“Some people even talked about Machar was first rejected by Sudanese government, this is not true,” he asserted.
Multiple media reports suggest South Sudanese rebel leader was stopped upon his arrival at Bole International Airport and only to be informed that he must go back to South Africa or risked being deported to South Sudan.
News of Machar alleged expulsion was met with mix reactions mainly on social media.
Supporters of South Sudanese President Kiir celebrated the news saying Machar is now defeated militarily and diplomatically, claiming leaders of Sudan and Ethiopia have now decided to join other unnamed East African leaders who have already rejected him.
Meanwhile, most rebel supporters dismiss the news as a misinterpretation, emphasizing those who think eliminating Machar could end the civil war are wrong, adding that the ongoing armed conflict is not about him.