South Sudan, Rebels seal Deal on Machar’s return

South Sudan’s government and rebels say they have reached a deal to let rebel leader Riek Machar return to the capital to form a unity government.

Mr Kiir (R) is a member of the country's largest group, the Dinka, while Mr Machar (L) is from the second-biggest, the Nuer.
Mr Kiir (R) is a member of the country’s largest group, the Dinka, while Mr Machar (L) is from the second-biggest, the Nuer.

Rebel spokesman James Gatdet Dak said Machar was expected to fly into Juba on Thursday.

Machar was due to return early this week as part of a peace deal with his rival President Salva Kiir to end a two-year conflict.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than two million forced to flee their homes because of clashes between rival factions.

Machar is due to take up the post of first vice president next to  Kiir as part of a power sharing deal.

Machar postponed his return to Juba because the government had declined to give him permission over the numbers of troops and amounts of weapons he planned to being with him.

He had asked to transport 1,500 police forces and 1,410 soldiers with their weapons, which include machine guns and other equipment. Juba allowed in only 1,370 troops, and refused to allow another 1,540 forces.

“There is no reason for the government to refuse these number of soldiers traveling ahead of the Chairman (Machar). The kind of weapons we want to transport to Juba are the weapons they already have there,” the rebel group said.

“We are going to be a separate army under the transitional government and we should have our own weapons. If there is a lack of commitment to end this conflict, then it is the government in Juba which is not committed.”

A displaced women residing in the United Nations Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal, South Sudan, examines a burnt and looted area, searching for her belongings, February 26, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The bloody civil war in South Sudan, the youngest country in Africa, began in December 2013 when Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of plotting a coup against him.

The two sides then got involved in a cycle of retaliatory killings that have split the impoverished country along ethnic lines.

Despite the August 2015 peace deal, battles persist across the country. There are numerous militia forces that do not abide by peace agreements and are driven by local agendas.

In January, UN rights monitors offered details about a long list of horrific abuses in the destructive war.

A joint report by the UN peacekeeping mission, UNMISS, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) cited “gross violations” of human rights, including “gang-rape, sexual slavery and forced abortion,” by the warring sides.


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