Government of Tanzania unaware of Machar's presence in the country

The government has been caught unaware by reports of the presence in the country of the former South Sudan Vice President Dr Riek Machar, reports The Citizen newspaper.

A section of the Kenyan media reported, over the weekend, that Dr Machar has been spotted in Dodoma, Tanzania's capital, where he was allegedly seeking refuge.

But spokesperson of the Foreign Affairs and East African Community ministry Mindi Kasiga told The Citizen in a telephone interview yesterday (Sunday) that the ministry was following up on the reports. The ministry was not, therefore, in a position to either confirm or deny Dr Machar's presence in the country, she noted.

Ms Kasiga added that there had been no exchange of official communications between the government and Dr Machar team in recent days.

"We have been caught unawares by reports of Dr Riek Machar's presence in Tanzania. We are currently trying to establish whether Dr Machar is actually in the country," she said.

According to unconfirmed media reports Dr Machar gained entry into Tanzania four days ago, and was later "spotted on Satellite". Further reports relate the impromptu visit of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga to Dar es Salaam on Saturday with the "exile" of Dr Machar to Tanzania.

Dr Machar's whereabouts have been the subject of speculation since he fled Juba following the start fresh fighting in Juba last month. Mr Machar was then stripped off his first vice-president title and Taban Deng Gai, a former cabinet minister, was appointed in his place.

Tanzania's ruling party has been hosting negotiations in Arusha, which were aimed at ending hostilities and cementing unity within the ranks and file of the SPLM party. Both Dr Machar and South Sudan President Salvar Kiir have been attending the talks. --