South Sudan neighbours further isolate rebel leader Riek Machar

Friday November 04 2016

LEFT: Former South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar. RIGHT: James Gatdet Dak. PHOTO | FILE

South Sudan rebel leader Dr Riek Machar has suffered another blow after Juba appeared to have successfully persuaded neighbouring countries to isolate him further.

At first was Sudan prohibiting Dr Machar from issuing political statements while on its soil. Now Ethiopia and Kenya seem to have heeded President Salva Kiir.

Juba has been urging neighbours to expel rebels from their territories.

A week after Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, announced that he will not allow South Sudan's rebel leader to operate from the Horn of Africa country and promised to expel his allies, Kenyan authorities arrested and deported the rebel leader's spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak to Juba.

Mr Dak, who has been staying in Nairobi was picked up on Wednesday evening from his residents and taken to the Jomo Kenyatta International airport in an operation coordinated by both Kenya and South Sudan intelligence.

He is currently being held at the Internal Affairs headquarters in Juba. Former South Sudan Minister for Agriculture, Mabior de Mabior, told The East African that the rebel movement fears that Mr Gatdet will be executed.


Mr Dak, who has been countering government statements on behalf of the rebel movement from Nairobi—recently posted on his Facebook wall that the rebel movement welcomed the sacking of Kenya’s Lt. Gen.

Vulnerable population

Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki as the commander of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), citing peacekeepers' failure to protect civilians during the crisis right in the capital, Juba, and in other parts of the country, more notably in Malakal.

“We hope a new Force Commander will be appointed soon who will be more responsive and take actions to protect the civilians at risk in exercising their mandate. We commend the action taken by the United Nations Secretary General, which we believe will contribute to confidence building among the vulnerable populations in South Sudan,” he wrote.

Dr Machar on Friday gave a statement detailing how on learning that Mr Gatdet had been arrested he fruitlessly called Kenya's Deputy President Willian Ruto to plead with him not to allow Mr Gak to be deported to the fear of his life and that he was in Kenya as an urban refugee under the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

He said that the deportation is a violation of the Geneva Convention, especially coming from Kenya that is a guarantor of the August 2015 peace agreement.

Rebel leaders

“I was informed about the development and immediately contacted the Kenyan Authorities. On a telephone conversation with the Deputy President H.E William Ruto, I appealed that Mr Dak should not be deported to Juba due to profound fear for his life. I also spoke to the Attorney General and I attempted to speak with Minister for Foreign Affairs, I alerted them them of the fact that Mr Dak was an urban refugee under the protection of the UNHCR in Kenya. Unfortunately, my appeal was ignored,” said Dr Machar in a statement.

On October3, Kenyan members of the parliamentary committee on security visited Juba and announced that Kenya will eject all rebel and opposition politicians from the country.

Committee chairman, Asman Kamama, said that Kenya would seek the support of other Eastern African countries to halt hosting South Sudanese politicians promoting “violent politics” and using regional countries as Launchpad for war.

Dr Machar had in September announced in Khartoum that he would mobilise his forces and launch a fresh rebellion against President Kiir if the region fails to resuscitate the August 15 peace agreement. President Kiir on the other hand had called upon the region to treat the rebels as “terrorists”.