Futuyo: Machar needs freedom for campaigns 

Futuyo: Machar needs freedom for campaigns 
Alfred Futuyo, Western Equatoria State Governor (photo credit: Kitab Unango/The City Review)

The governor of Western Equatoria State, Alfred Futuyo, lamented the lack of political space in the country, saying the SPLM-IO chairman, Dr. Riek Machar, has not been accorded freedom to campaign.

Futuyo, who addressed the fourth day of the Seventh Governors Forum held at Freedom Hall, argued that Machar needed to be allowed to visit all the states and administrative areas to meet the people.  

“Political space is not officially declared while we are left with 10 months for the election,” Futuyo said.

 According to Futuyo, Machar has been in Juba for five years without moving, despite being a key signatory to the revitalised peace agreement.

“I wanted to ask him (Machar) whether he has constructed the tallest antenna to put microphones in for him to communicate in Juba so that he can be heard in villages or states,” Futuyo said.

On September 17, 2023, the party’s deputy chairperson, Oyet Nathaniel, also claimed that his chairman has been denied an opportunity to move or even seek treatment outside of the country. He told the media that the first vice president had been domiciled in Juba since 2020 and that the status quo sent a negative message about the country’s score on honouring individual rights.  

However, the SPLM Secretary-General Lam Both dismissed the claim, terming it untrue, arguing that there has never been a complaint from Dr Machar that his rights of movement had been stripped off.  

Lam said that if the claim were true, Dr. Machar would not be acting as president of South Sudan while President Kiir is travelling outside the country.

After the July 2016 war in South Sudan, IGAD reportedly imposed travel restrictions on Dr Machar, placing him under house arrest in South Africa.  In 2018, he was permitted to reside in neighbouring Sudan, where he engaged in peace talks that culminated in the September 2018 peace deal. After the signing of a revitalised peace agreement, Machar and several other opposition leaders returned to Juba and formed the revitalised Government of National Unity in February 2020.