Henry Dilah Odwar, deputy chairman of the armed opposition group by the former First Vice-President Riek Machar has called for his boss’s release from forced detention in South Africa as he prepares to lead a team to attend the revitalization forum of the 2015 peace deal in Addis Ababa next week.
Reports indicate rebel leader Riek Machar delegated Henry Odwar as head of the delegation, also comprising of Elias Nyamlell and Angelina Teny.
“Riek’s release is important now, because his forced confinement in South Sudan is illegal. But we want to reaffirm that whether Riek is released or not, SPLM-IO will continue to be there,” Owdar said in an interview with Radio Tamazuj today, adding that the opposition faction under Riek Machar is committed to peace in South Sudan.
“The presence of Machar during the upcoming peace process is very important because there will be protocols to be signed such as issues to do with arrangement of military and ceasefire because he is our commander-in-chief,” he said.
Odwar, who hails from Ikotos County, accused President Kiir’s administration of violating the 2015 peace agreement after his group return to Juba last year.
The deputy rebel chief denied claims that their movement is vanishing after losing its strongholds across the country. He pointed out that the SPLM-IO is currently reorganizing itself after a wave of defections hit its ranks following fighting in July last year.
Odwar, who is a former lawmaker in Juba, expressed optimism about peace in the country. “We hope that the upcoming peace forum will be the last chance for peace in South Sudan. We want peace to come, and we are going to attend the peace forum with open minds so that we bring peace to our people. I also urge Kiir not to have reservations like before,” he said.
The top opposition official said that they will attend the peace forum in Addis Ababa without pre-conditions, with the aim to bring about peace in South Sudan. However, he said their leader must be released from exile in South Sudan.
The South Sudanese rebel leader has been on forced detention in South Africa since October 2016 when he travelled to Pretoria for medical treatment.
The decision to place him under house arrest was reportedly reached by IGAD countries in order to keep him away from South Sudan in the hope of preventing renewed fighti