Black Affairs, Africa and Development

South Sudan’s Machar flees To Exile

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South Sudan’s rebel leader and former first vice president Riek Machar has reportedly left for a neighboring country weeks after he fled the capital, Juba.

An opposition spokesman on Thursday confirmed that Machar had left a day earlier to a “safe country within the region,” and was expected to hold a news conference on Friday.

Machar’s spokesman James Gatdet Dak said in a separate statement that he “has been successfully relocated to a neighboring country” after one month of stay in the bushes around Juba.

Dak thanked rebel forces for foiling what he called a “ruthless attempt” by President Salva Kiir to kill Machar.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than three million forced to flee their homes in the war that started in December 2013, when Kiir sacked Machar as his deputy after accusing him of plotting a coup.

The conflict broke out only two years after the country seceded from Sudan. The two sides eventually signed an agreement in August 2015 to bring the war to an end.

As part of the deal, Machar returned to Juba on April 26 to take up the post of vice president in a national unity government.

(From L) First vice president of South Sudan and former rebel leader Riek Machar, South Sudan President Salva Kiir and second vice president James Wani Igga shake hands in Juba on April 29, 2016. ©AFP

However, peace did not last long as a new wave of fighting erupted on July 8, when gunfire broke out near where Kiir and Machar were meeting in Juba.

During the next several days, more than 300 people were killed in clashes and Machar left the capital after his base in Juba was bombed by troops loyal to Kiir.

The vice president was then removed after being given a 48-hour ultimatum to return to the capital which he ignored.

Displaced South Sudanese children are seen in Juba on July 15, 2016. ©AFP

Machar’s supporters say he is still the legitimate vice president and his removal is a sheer violation of last year’s peace deal.

Amid the conflict, the UN Security Council approved this month to deploy a 4,000-strong protection force to South Sudan despite Juba’s strong opposition.

The deployment will bring the total number of foreign troops in the country to 17,500.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), as the force is called, has already been criticized for failing to protect civilians during an attack in Juba last month.

The mission is also under fire for allegedly failing to stop government forces from reportedly committing sexual assaults outside UN camps in the capital.

Press TV

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