April 23, 2016 (GAMBELLA) – South Sudan’s first vice-president designate, Riek Machar, has been denied permission to land at Juba airport today, Saturday, by the government of President Salva Kiir, his spokesperson has revealed.
South Sudan’s rebel leader, Riek Machar (Photo: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)
The top opposition leader of SPLM-IO who has been in the airport of Gambella waiting for hours and prepared to travel to Juba has been told to wait until Monday, 25 April 2016.
“Dr. Machar is currently at the airport of Gambella as we speak and ready to travel to Juba today, but his plane has been denied permission to land in Juba today, Saturday,” said James Gatdet Dak, press secretary of the opposition leader.
He said Machar arrived at noon time in Gambella from his headquarters in Pagak across the border ready to travel to Juba.
“President Salva Kiir’s regime has just informed the first vice-president designate, Dr. Riek Machar, that they will not allow his plane to land on Saturday or Sunday until Monday,” he said.
Dak said the same situation has also applied with the opposition’s army chief of general staff, General Simon Gatwech Dual, who was supposed to travel to Juba ahead of Machar.
The schedule by the opposition leadership was for General Dual and 195 troops with their “organic weapons” to arrive in Juba at 10:00am in the morning and Machar would follow at 01:00pm.
Earlier, government’s spokesman on Friday said they would first send a team to verify the weapons of the opposition troops before they could grant a landing permission to planes that would carry the troops and the top leadership.
The opposition group has criticized the government for lack of seriousness to implement the peace agreement and called on regional and international peace partners to put pressure on the government to commit to peace.
He said the leadership will wait until Monday to see if the permission to land will be issued by President Kiir’s government.