South Sudan’s prominent opposition and SPLM-IO leader, Dr Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, is reportedly attending the government-planned peace celebrations in the nation’s capital Juba on October 30, according to several sources who spoke to this reporter.
If true, Machar’s return to Juba will be the first of its kind since he fled the youngest nation’s capital for Congo in a hot armed persuade by government troops who nearly killed him along the way to Western Equatoria state where he was eventually extracted to DRC by the UN mission there MONUSCO.
Several sources on Tuesday said that the opposition leader will attend the celebration and he will be accompanied by the Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir who will guarantee his security.
“Dr. Machar will travel to Juba on the day of the celebration during the early hours of that day. He will go with President Omar [Al-Bashir] and Omar will guarantee his safety and he will return back to Sudan the same day,” the source with knowledge of the issue told this reporter on the condition of anonymity.
Another source said that Machar is still undecided but will possibly go to Juba despite defiance of a demand to release political detainees and lift the state of emergency by President Salva Kiir Mayardiit.
“Yes the Chairman is still deciding whether to go to Juba or not. You know we had some demands like the release of the political detainees and the lifting of the state of emergency and the government have not met these demand,” the other source told this reporter.
The same source said decision for Machar to go to Juba will need the opinion of the SPLM-IO leaders saying it is a bureaucratic issue that does not need the unilateral decisions.
“This will involve the whole of the SPLM-IO top leadership. Machar will not take a unilateral decision because his safety matters for us (IO) and the people of South Sudan as well,” the source added.
For his part, President Salva Kiir’s Press Secretary, Ateny Wek Ateny, told the Eye Radio on Monday that top opposition figures such as Dr. Riek Machar as well as Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin will be attending the celebrations after they had been invited by the government adding that Bashir will guarantee their safety.
“The opposition are all invited, Sudan government will be guaranteeing for participation of the opposition led by Dr. Riek Machar and Dr. Lam Akol,” Ateny told the Eye Radio.