JUBA – The newly-appointed spokesman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) Colonel Lam Paul Gabriel has said that South Sudan’s First Vice President and SPLM-IO leader Dr. Riek Machar Teny did not return to Juba at his own will, but was forced to do so by the international community.
This comes after holdout opposition politicians and commanders accused Machar of forgetting his forces outside the capital Juba and focusing on the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement which the holdout SPLA-IO commanders have described at some points as a dead peace citing lack of willingness from the government of President Salva Kiir.
“It is the pressure from the International community that pushed Machar to come to Juba. He did not come out of his will,” Col Lam Paul who was appointed to replace General William Gatjiath Deng said in an interview published by Netherlands-based Radio Tamazuj.
“He was in South Africa and was taken to Khartoum and he was forced to sign the peace agreement and they told him that this peace agreement should be implemented. This is our peace as South Sudanese and it was wise even for Machar to come and begin to implement the peace,” he added.
The senior opposition commander further dismissed as false claims by holdout opposition officials that the main armed opposition leader returned to Juba and leave his forces outside the peace implementation despite lack of political will from his main rival President Salva Kiir Mayardit.
“It is not true that Machar came to Juba and forgot his forces behind. No. I was among the first advanced security team that came ahead before Machar,” Colonel Lam said. “We organized confidence-building between the IO and the SSPDF and since then, some things are changing.”
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