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Machar's return to South Sudan capital postponed

Machar's return to South Sudan capital postponed

South Sudan

South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar’s return to the capital, Juba, on Monday, has been postponed for logistical reasons, BBC reports.

Machar fled Juba at the start of the conflict in December 2013 and had promised to take up his previous vice president post upon his return following the creation of a unity government.

“I am therefore confirming the date of my arrival to be April 18 and thereafter form with President Kiir the Transitional Government of National Unity and hold the Transitional National Council of Ministers,” Machar had said on Thursday in a letter to the head of the body monitoring the implementation of the peace deal.

The oil-rich country which gained independence from Sudan in 2011, descended into chaos more than two and a half years ago when a political row between Kiir and his then-deputy Machar spiralled into a vicious armed conflict that prompted a cycle of retaliatory killings along ethnic lines.

Under pressure from international powers, Kiir and Machar signed an initial peace deal in August 2015 and agreed to share ministerial positions in January. But the agreement has broken down repeatedly.

Last week, the UN mission in South Sudan said it had helped Machar’s SPLM/A group transport more than 800 military and police officers to the capital Juba, including two of its generals.

Machar said in February that a condition to his return to Juba and taking up his old position of vice president was the demilitarisation of the capital, and that some of his soldiers be allowed to return with him.

Tens of thousands have been killed in the fighting that has displaced more than two million people from their homes.