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Spokesman: South Sudan’s Machar 'Evacuated'

FILE - South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar gestures as he holds a press conference.

South Sudan rebel leader and former first vice president in the Transitional Government of National Unity, Riek Machar, will break his silence Thursday, a spokesman for the SPLM-IO movement told VOA Daybreak Africa.

Machar has been in hiding since early July following clashes between his supporters and government troops in the capital, Juba.

President Salva Kiir then sacked Machar as first vice president and replaced him with Taban Deng Gai, who was backed by a breakaway faction of Machar’s SPLM-IO movement.

Mabior Garang de Mabior, chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) National Committee for Information and Public Relations, told VOA that Machar has been “safely evacuated” to another country in East Africa and will hold a news conference.

He said Machar’s whereabouts remain secret because the “enemies of peace” are still pursuing Machar, tracking his every move and phone communication.

The government has denied previous allegations that it has tried to assassinate Machar.

Mabior referred to Machar as the “legitimate first vice president” but did not say whether Machar would seek to challenge Gai for his old job.

Speaking to reporters in Nairobi Wednesday, Gai said Machar should denounce violence, form a political party and wait for elections in 2018.