UNITED NATIONS, -- The United Nations has confirmed that South Sudan's former First Vice-President Riek Machar is in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but will not confirm his location.

This comes amidst reports that the opposition leader fled into the northeastern DRC with his wife and a convoy of about 60 armed men after a failed assassination attempt on him by forces loyal to President Salva Kiir.

The convoy was spotted by personnel of the UN Mission to the DRC, MONUSCO, who upon alerting the DRC authorities, were requested to extract Machar and about ten others to an undisclosed location in the country.

The UN remains tight-lipped surrounding the circumstances of Machar's arrival in the DRC but a statement earlier by the former First Vice-President's spokesperson says he was safely evacuated to a country within the region after a botched assassination attempt.

The UN Secretary-General's deputy spokesman, Farhan Haq, said: "As soon as the UN mission in the DRC, (MONUSCO) was alerted of the presence of Riek Machar in the DRC, the mission contacted the DRC authorities who requested MONUSCO to facilitate his extraction and transfer to their care.

"We can confirm that an operation was undertaken by MONUSCO on humanitarian grounds to facilitate the extraction of Riek Machar, his wife and ten others from a location in the DRC in support of the DRC authorities."

The UN would not reveal details about Machar's medical condition saying only that they provided whatever medical assistance he needed.

Sources though have indicated that he was being moved on a stretcher and might again have to be evacuated from the DRC to another country, possibly South Africa, on medical grounds. Sources also say that the government of South Sudan was aware of his location in the DRC and might have been tracking his convoy's movements.

South Sudan's peace agreement signed a year ago appears now to have all but collapsed.

The almost three-year conflict in the world's youngest nation has left nearly three million people homeless and forced one million to flee to neighbouring countries.

Haq added: "The Peace Agreement remains the only viable option for the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan. We urge Riek Machar and all stakeholders to resume the implementation of the agreement and put a final end to the long term suffering of South Sudan."

The UN Security Council voted last week to authorize an additional 4,000-strong peacekeeping force to the country to arrest the fast deteriorating circumstances after a resurgence in violence in July that forced Machar to initially flee the capital Juba and now the country.

Source: Name News Network

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