Will Dr. Riek Machar be released?

March 25, 2018, IGAD special envoy recommends review of Machar status

The IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan, Ambassador Ismail Wais, has recommended that the IGAD Council of Ministers should review and take appropriate action on the status of the exiled rebel leader Riek Machar.

Ismail said this in a progress report to be presented to the IGAD Council of Ministers in its extraordinary meeting on South Sudan in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on Monday.

The especial envoy’s report intends to assist the council in determining how to urgently address the challenges that could derail South Sudan peace and highlight key developments in the revitalization process.

In the report seen by Radio Tamazuj today, Ambassador Wais also recommended that the council should review and take action on the issue of political prisoners.

He pointed out that the opposition and other stakeholders throughout the peace forum raised questions about the participation of rebel leader Riek Machar in the forum, besides the release of all political prisoners.

Article 8 of the cessation of hostilities deal signed last year says each party should unconditionally release all prisoners of war, political detainees and abducted women and children to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) without delay, but many political prisoners are still in detention.

South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar who is leading the main opposition group is being held in South Africa to prevent him from going back to his country.

The decision was reportedly reached by IGAD countries in order to keep him away in the hope of preventing fighting in the world’s youngest nation.

In the report, the IGAD especial envoy called on the council to consider taking decisive measures on violation of the ceasefire deal that has been verified by peace monitors, while urging the IGAD leadership to intensify its engagement with the parties and key regional interlocutors to better understand the parties’ position and unlock the outstanding the outstanding issues.

Ambassador Wais also said that the South Sudan parties had engaged constructively in their deliberations during the second round of the peace talks in February.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on 16 February suspended South Sudan peace talks to give warring sides more time to reach conclusive agreement.

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