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IGAD Sets New Conditions for South Sudan Rebel Leader

FILE - South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar, left, and his wife, Angelina Teny, joke in front of their tent in a rebel-controlled area in Jonglei State, South Sudan, Jan. 31, 2014.

The family of Riek Machar, South Sudan's former first vice president and leader of Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition, is disappointed in a decision made by the regional bloc of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) calling for a conditional "lifting of house arrest."

Machar's wife, Angelina Teny, responded to IGAD's decision Monday.

"If you read it carefully, actually, there is no lifting of any house arrest. Because what they said is very clear that they will transfer him from where he is now, which is South Africa, to another location that is not in the region, and that would not be in any proximity with South Sudan,'' she said.

The IGAD statement said it would release Machar as soon as possible if he would renounce violence, not obstruct the peace process and relocate to any country "outside the region not neighboring South Sudan.''

The statement said that IGAD ministers would decide on a possible location for Machar.

Teny said the ministers of the regional bloc are not being fair to her husband.

"They made another condition to say that he must not obstruct the peace process. How can he be obstructing the peace process or the revitalization process when he already appointed a delegation that has been engaging constructively in the two last rounds or sessions of talks?'' Teny said.

The regional bloc called upon the Transitional Government of National Unity and the nine opposition groups not to squander the opportunity for ending the suffering of the people of South Sudan.

But Teny, who is a senior opposition member, said IGAD was pushing her group into a tight corner.

"It is going to implicate the [peace] process, because SPLM-IO is being pushed to negotiate from a position where its leader is in captivity,'' Teny said.

IGAD did not set new dates for the resumption of the peace talks. Its special envoy for South Sudan Ambassador Ismail Wais, will consult various South Sudanese stakeholders to reconcile the position of the parties on power sharing and permanent security arrangements before the next talks.

Forced to flee

Machar is a de facto prisoner in a farmhouse outside of Johannesburg. He is isolated from his friends and family, and has been frozen out of South Sudan's peace process and the future of his country.

Machar, who has long dominated South Sudanese politics, was an instrumental figure in South Sudan's fight for independence from Sudan, and has served as vice president twice in the very short history of the world's newest nation. It became independent in 2011.

Critics say although he was an architect of South Sudan's creation, he was instrumental in its downfall. Among other factors, tensions between him and President Salva Kiir sparked the civil war that began in 2013, leaving the country devastated in its wake.

A new outbreak of fighting in July 2016 destroyed a tentative peace deal that had restored Machar to his government post, and forced him to flee the country. With limited options, Machar ended up in South Africa.

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    John Tanza

    John Tanza works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is the managing editor and host of the  South Sudan In Focus radio program.
    Before joining VOA, John worked in Nairobi, Kenya where he established the first independent radio station (Sudan Radio Service) for the people of Sudan. He has covered several civil wars both in Sudan and South Sudan and has been engaged in the production of civic education materials for creating awareness about post conflict issues facing Sudanese and South Sudanese. John has interviewed South Sudan President Salva Kiir, former Vice President Riek Machar, Vice President Wani Igga, leader of Sudan’s Umma Party Sadiq Al Mahdi in addition to other senior United Nations and U.S government officials in South Sudan and Washington. His travels have taken him across to Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Egypt, Ethiopia, Syria, DRC Congo and parts East Africa where he reported on the South Sudanese diaspora and the challenges facing them.
    A South Sudanese national, John enjoys listening to music from all over the world, reads academic books, watches documentaries and listens to various radio stations on the internet.  You can follow John on Twitter at @Abusukon

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