Riek Machar Refused Entry into Ethiopia, Sent Back to South Africa
South Sudan’s exiled rebel leader Riek Machar was allegedly refused entry into Ethiopia on Monday.
Various media outlets report the former SPLM-IO chief was briefly detained at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport before being sent back to South Africa, where he has been staying since early October.
Machar refused entry
The reports suggest Riek Machar was refused entry into Ethiopia because authorities believed he would travel from Addis Ababa to his rebel headquarters on the South Sudanese side of the border.
He was allegedly denied permission to enter the country and told to return to South Africa or face being deported back to South Sudan.
However, rebels loyal to Riek Machar insist the reports are false. They say Machar was neither detained at Addis Ababa nor forced to return to South Africa by authorities.
“These are false reports; there is no such a thing that our leader was arrested and extradited back to South Africa,” one rebel official told South Sudan News Agency.
Instead, his supporters say he was simply unable to obtain a visa and voluntarily returned to South Africa as a result.
Machar ready to return to South Sudan
Machar’s travel problems come after reports that he’s ready to return to South Sudan once again and collaborate with the government on the country’s peace process.
IBTimes reported earlier this month that Machar was “ready to go home” but the SPLM-IO appears unsure of his return.
It would be a second homecoming for Riek Machar after he briefly resumed his place as South Sudan’s vice-president in April. However, the rebel leader soon fled South Sudan once again after fighting erupted between troops loyal to him and government forces.
Meanwhile, the US is pushing for Riek Machar to face UN sanctions for fueling violence in South Sudan – something critics fear will only be prolonged by his return.
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