The former rebel leader of South Sudan Riek Machar left Khartoum Wednesday where he lives in exile since he fled Juba after heavy fighting in July, saying he was travelling to South Africa for “medical examinations”.
This was the first appearance before the press by the rebel leader since July. According to the journalists present at the briefing, the former rebel leader appeared healthy.
“I go now to South Africa for further medical tests (…) and after that I leave South Africa,” he told reporters at Khartoum airport without specifying where he will be going afterwards.
Sudan hosted Riek Machar last summer for medical treatment, according to authorities in Khartoum.
In 2015, Machar became vice president of a national unity government with President Salva Kiir but he fled Juba after deadly fighting with heavy weapons that took place in July in the South Sudanese capital between his forces and those of Mr Kiir.
In late September, Riek Machar announced his intention to “launch a popular armed resistance against the fascist and authoritarian regime of President Salva Kiir to bring the country peace, freedom, democracy and the rule of law.”
He had made the call from Khartoum, saying that the peace deal reached in August 2015 through the international community was no longer valid.
The international community however strongly condemned the call by Machar to ignite a new war against the South Sudanese government.
Violence continues in many parts of South Sudan. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed concern on 30 September of the situation of about 100,000 people “trapped” in the town of Yei (150 km southwest of Juba) which is encircled by the south Sudanese government forces.