A spokesman says South Sudan’s exiled rebel leader Riek Machar is traveling to South Africa to seek medical treatment but will not seek political asylum there.
His departure came nearly two month after he was flown from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Khartoum for treatment in August. Machar fled South Sudan’s capital Juba following fighting in July.
The move announced today (Wednesday) by spokesman Mabior Garang deepens South Sudan’s political limbo as fighting continues in many parts of the world’s youngest nation.
The former South Sudan first vice-president addressed the press at the Khartoum airport where he thanked the government of Sudan the hospitality before his departure.
Machar, then the country’s first vice president, fled South Sudan after fighting erupted in July between troops loyal to him and others supporting President Salva Kiir. Machar ended up in neighboring Sudan, where he recently issued a call to arms against the government.The rebel leader recently declared that he would work to bring down the government of President Salva Kiir, sparking a diplomatic row between Juba and Khartoum, but the latter says it will not allow any aggression or opposition activities against South Sudan from its territories.
On Monday, a government spokesman called Machar and his forces “terrorists” and accused them of “targeted killing” based on ethnicity.
Tens of thousands have been killed since civil war began in late 2013. Over a million people have fled the country.