Fleeing Former First Vice President of South Sudan, Riek Machar, dodged bombs rained on him by President Kiir’s forces, and trekked for 40 days before arriving to safety near South Sudan/ Congolese (DRC) border, Spokesman of his faction of the SPLM-IO, James Gatdet, said Sunday.
This is coming as the South Sudan Government warned Machar to denounce violence if he wants to return to Juba.
The government position came as newly appointed First Vice President, Gen Tabang Den Gai, arrived Sudan for talks with President Omer al Bashir.
There were also reports that troops loyal to Machar were defecting to join the Sudanese government’s plan to establish one army for the country.
James Gatdet Dak, spokesman for the opposition leader, said Machar was regaining strength from exhaustion after walking for hundreds of kilometers for 40 days in the bushes from Juba, the South Sudanese capital, to the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“I understand many people are eager to hear his voice or see him talking to the media. This will happen soon. He is regaining strength from the exhaustion. He walked for 40 days, also dodging bombs dropped on him by President Salva Kiir’s helicopter gunships. But he will speak to the media as soon as he feels stronger,” Dak told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
Dak was responding to circulated rumours on social that Machar might have been in critical situation in hospital in DR Congo or his leg wounded with gunshot. He said the allegations were false.
“No, none of these allegations is true. Only his legs slightly got swollen because of walking for 40 days. He was not wounded. It is obvious that walking for such a very long time would result to extreme exhaustion. However, he has regained strength and it is a matter few days he will appear to the media,” he added.
He also said the rest of the political and military leaderships of the opposition faction are with him are doing fine.
Machar, First Vice President, escaped from Juba when he was reportedly lured to the palace by his political rival, President Salva Kiir, was nearly got killed.
He fled the capital on 8 July when his bodyguards were attacked at the palace and his residence was also bombed. He hid in the bushes with his small number of troops amidst continued bombardments until he reached the Congolese border.
Soldiers loyal to former First Vice President Riek Machar’s have defected to the SPLM-IO under Chairmanship of Gen Taban Deng Gai ahead of the reintegration process, Chimp Corps report.
The defecting soldiers were led by two senior commanders identified as Maj Gen Makal Kuol and 2nd Lt Gen Dor Manjur.
The two commanders played key roles in decisive battles that raged in Juba in December 2013 and July 2o16.
Defence officials told ChimpReports on Sunday that the soldiers will be maintained at cantonment areas before being vetted for reintegration in the mainstream SPLA.
According to the Addis Ababa peace deal, opposition forces under Dr Riek Machar and government troops would be stationed around the capital city, Juba.
This created friction, leading to the July military clashes at the presidential compound in which over 300 soldiers died.
The fighting compelled Machar to flee Juba before being rescued from his hideout in the forests along the DRC/South Sudan border by United Nations.
Meanwhile, the command of South Sudan army (SPLA) announced on Saturday that it will on Monday hold multiple military drills of the rapid reaction forces.
The event, according to a statement from the army, will involve the use of different weapons as well as aircraft and helicopters in the drills which will be carried out at Gorom.
Military sources say the recruits largely drawn by the ethnic group of President Salva Kiir and his army chief of general staff, Paul Malong Awan, have been trained by foreign instructors from Egypt and neigbouring Uganda to perform airborne landing to seize an enemy’s airfield and retain it until the arrival of the main forces.
The recruits also received an advance reconnaissance detachment training about the Airborne Force held reconnaissance and tactics related to search operations, camouflage blocked and destroyed the command posts of illegal armed formations after seizing bridge-crossing sites in the area of responsibility of the rapid reaction collective forces.
“The SPLA GHQs has announced that the SPLA Military Academy in Gorom shall be conducting live fire exercise on Monday 22nd August from 0600 hours to 1100 hours. The drill is aimed at honing the assault intensity, precision, stability and speed of troops”, the statement obtained by the Sudan Tribune and widely circulated on social and other media sources for purpose of information reads in part.
It urged residents of Gorom to avoid the area for their own safety. The direction of fire will be West and Northwest. It also urged the public not to panic.
The recruits shall be conducting the exercise using AK-47 assault rifles, PKM light machine guns and RPG launchers, the army’s statement further stressed.