South Sudan's govt ready to accept return of rebel leader

South Sudan tells UN Security Council that country is ready for return of rebel leader Riek Machar to capital Juba

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

There has been fierce international criticism of South Sudan President Salva Kiir (pictured) and his arch-rival, rebel chief Riek Machar.

South Sudanese diplomats informed the United Nations on Thursday that the country expects hundreds of rebels to arrive in capital Juba to pave the way for the return of rebel leader Riek Machar.

South Sudan Deputy Ambassador to UN Joseph Moum told the Security Council that "by the end of this week, if everything remains as planned… the entire 1,370 agreed forces will be in Juba paving the way for Dr Riek Machar to eventually come to Juba."

Machar's arrival in Juba is a key step for the formation of a unity government that was agreed under a peace accord to end a brutal war which has killed tens of thousands of people over nearly 2.5 years.

Sporadic violence has continued in some parts of the country despite the deal.

According to peace deal that signed in August, rebel leader Machar will join President Salva Kiir in a new 30-month transitional government leading to elections.

Machar was Kiir’s deputy before the war and had been living in exile in Kenya and Ethiopia. He was re-appointed as vice president in February under the new peace deal.

UN mission chief Ellen Margrethe Loj told the council that Machar's return to Juba to join the government "is when the hard work of rebuilding the country has to start and difficult decisions must be taken."

The UN is pushing Kiir and Machar to implement the deal despite ongoing fighting and delays.

UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien told the council that fighting was spreading despite the peace deal, with new outbreaks around Western Bahr el Ghazal, Western Equatoria, Jonglei and Malakal.

Political tension in South Sudan turned into violence when the President Kiir accused the ousted former Vice President Riek Machar of plotting a coup against him.

Some global aid agencies, such as Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee of the Red Cross have evacuated their staff from South Sudan over fears of clashes.

According to the UN 50,000 people have been killed and another 1.5 million are believed to be displaced since the conflict in South Sudan began.

TRTWorld and agencies