East African states and South Africa believe that allowing South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar to return to the war-torn country would not “necessarily be positive at this stage,” United Nations envoy David Shearer said on Wednesday.
Machar, who fled to Democratic Republic of Congo in August after fierce fighting in South Sudan, is being held in South Africa to prevent him from stirring up trouble, diplomatic and political sources told Reuters in December.
Shearer, who heads a U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, confirmed that was the case.
South Sudan descended into civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir fired Machar as his deputy, unleashing a conflict that has spawned armed factions often following ethnic lines.
The United Nations has warned of a possible genocide as millions continue to flee their homes.