Sudan People’s Liberation Movement In Opposition (SPLM-IO) has formally requested the unconditional release of its leader confined by the East African bloc of IGAD in South Africa.
The major stakeholder in the peace revitalization forum made his claim in a letter to the nominated Ethiopian new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who will be sworn into office on Monday, April 2.
The move comes to protest to the decision of the IGAD Council of Ministers to end the confinement of the SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar “on conditions that ensure he will renounce violence and not obstruct the peace process and he be allowed to relocate to any country outside the region and are not neighboring South Sudan; designated IGAD Ministers will propose and decide a possible location”.
Henry D. Odwar Deputy Chairman, SPLM/A (IO) wrote to Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia and new IGAD Chairperson, explaining what his group has done to demonstrate its commitment to a peaceful settlement of the conflict in South Sudan and who was obstructing the efforts to finding a lasting peace.
“Your Excellency, I would like to submit to you that the conditions set that Dr Riek Machar should renounce violence and not obstruct the peace process are obstacles and are intentionally placed to frustrate the process and his participation,” wrote Odwar in a March 26 letter.
“We are aware that the SPLM-IG (the government) representative participated in the closed doors session where decisions were made by IGAD Council of Ministers. I am once again humbly requesting the unconditional release of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) Chairman and Commander in Chief, Dr Riek Machar and his participation in the HRLF (High Revitalization Level Forum),” he further stressed.
The second top opposition official said the SPLM-IO in a letter to the former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn had requested the release of all political detainees and abductees and prisoner of war, pointing that his group has released the POWs and did not have political detainees and prisoners
He urged the regional bloc, the IGAD, to put in place measures to hold the government accountable for attack on their positions in February attack in Nasir and to sign DoP (Declaration of Principles) and to ensure the government should not participate in future IGAD Council of Ministers meeting when deliberating on South Sudan crisis because the government cannot mediate a conflict in which it is a party.