The move was unexpected and probably represents a major shift in policy and relations between Sudan and Ethiopia with the rebel leader.
South Sudan’s former vice President and armed opposition leader Riek Machar had been denied entry to Sudan and Ethiopia for unspecified reason on Sunday afternoon and was forced to return back to South Africa, Col. William Gatjiath Deng, military spokesman for the armed opposition group SPLM-IO told local radio Tamazuj on Monday.
In late October, the deposed first vice president left Khartoum to South Africa seeking further medical treatment. He had arrived to Khartoum from the Democratic republic of Congo after clashes between his troops and the national army left many dead in the capital Juba.
The spokesman said Sudan denied him entry first when the rebel leader left South Africa for Sudan through Ethiopia. Machar then proceeded to Sudan and arrived at Khartoum International airport around 12:00 pm. To his own surprise, Khartoum officials asked him to return back to where he came from.
Col. Gatjiath said Machar stayed at the airport for over two hours negotiating with the Sudanese officials to allow him into the country.
After he realized that it was a “politically motivated” decision, Machar decided to return to Addis Ababa on the same day boarding an Ethiopian Airlines plane and arrives at Bole international airport around 6:30 pm.
However, the Ethiopians this time were not as welcoming as they used to him before. In fact, the authorities detained him at the airport for four and half hours before they advise him to board a plane and fly back to Johannesburg or risk being deported to Juba.
According to Col. Gatjiath, Riek Machar had no option so left Addis Ababa today morning for South Africa.
Thomas Magok Chuol, SPLM-IO representative to Uganda has also confirmed to Sudan Tribune that Riek Machar had returned back to South Africa.
“Yes, it is true Dr. Riek Machar has been told upon his arrival in Ethiopia to return to South Africa. It is not yet known the reason behind the decision,” he said.
With #SouthSudan rebel Riek Machar definitively defeated and exiled, the half-century war between the two Sudans has finally come to an end.
— Herman J. Cohen (@CohenOnAfrica) August 29, 2016