August 28, 2016 (JUBA) - The South Sudanese government has criticised neigbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for allegedly permitting the use of its territory to be used to evacuate armed opposition leader and former first vice president, Riek Machar.
The country’s information and broadcasting Minister Michael Makuei Lueth described evacuation of Machar from inside the country using an aircraft coming from Congo as a violation of international law and asked Congolese government through its embassy to explain why they could not inform them if they did not permit the evacuation plan.
The outspoken minister, in a statement on the state-owned SSBC, said "such act does not benefit either of the two countries as well as regional and global peace".
His comments follows a summon by the ministry of foreign Affairs of Congolese ambassador in Juba for a meeting at which the ministry officially protested what it calls border limitation by Congolese authorities. Machar fled the capital, Juba, after government forces attacked his residence following a clash between presidential guard force loyal to president and his (Machar) security details at the presidential palace in Juba, resulting in the death of over 200 soldiers on both sides.
Fearing for his life, he moved out of Juba hoping that the ceasefire he and president Salva Kiir declared would hold for him to return and resume his work at the presidency. But continued attacks by government forces pursuing him forced him to flee into DRC where the United Nations airlifted him after suffering from exhaustion and dehydration.
Commenting on Machar’s exit, the foreign ministry spokesman Mawien Makol said the ministry summoned the DRC ambassador in Juba to explain the action by his country. Makol claimed South Sudanese airspace was violated during the evacuation process.
“We summoned the Congolese Ambassador in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, because we were protesting on the border limitation that happened last week when the forces belonging to the former First Vice President crossed the border with him,” said Mawien.
“They [DRC] entered with a flight into the border without the knowledge of the government of the Republic of South Sudan, so that thing of course annoyed us and we have explained to him that this is what happened and he is going to convey the message to his country and that we were not informed about the coming into our border with the flight from Congolese. So they shouldn’t come to our airspace without getting permission from this country,” he added.
- South Sudan’s information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, speaks to reporters in Jonglei state capital Bor on 25 December 2014 (ST)