South Sudan’s former vice president Riek Machar has ordered the protection of Kenyans in areas under control by rebels, following the arrest and deportation of his spokesman James Gatdet in Kenya last week.
Machar’s directive follows an invective by his deputy military spokesman Dickson Gatluak issued against Kenyans living in South Sudan.
Speaking from Ethiopia, Major Gatluak said they would target Kenyans in South Sudan if the Juba government harms Gatdet.
“If they do anything to harm Gatdet we will also deal with Kenyans in our territories,” Major Gatluak said.
However, according to The Sudan Tribune, Machar’s office ‘ordered all our commanders to protect all Kenyans, business people, traders and NGO workers living and working in our control areas’.
The office noted they were innocent and had no role in Gatdet’s deportation.
Machar is said to have given the commanders the order by phone on Saturday, and the directive will see the protection of Kenyan citizens in areas including Akobo.
The rebel leader also called for Kenya to support its peace agreement.
Machar condemned his spokesman’s deportation, terming it a violation of the Geneva Convention.
The rebel leader accused Deputy President William Ruto and Attorney General Githu Muigai of ignoring his appeal not to deport Gatdet for fear of his life.
He said in a press statement on Friday that he called the two seeking their help in stopping the deportation.
Gatdet fled South Sudan finding sanctuary in Kenya, but police collected him from his Nairobi home on Wednesday and put him on a flight to South Sudan’s capital Juba the next day.
A Kenyan government source confirmed the spokesman’s extradition but did not explain the legal grounds for it.