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Regional presidents, Machar join South Sudan peace celebration

Regional presidents, Machar join South Sudan peace celebration

Leaders from around the East Africa subregion ‘descended’ on the South Sudanese capital, Juba, to join the peace day celebrations.

Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Somalia’s Mohammed Abdullahi Farmaajo, Sudan’s Omar Al-Bashir and Ethiopia’s president Sahle-Work Zewde, were among the dignitaries who joined the event.

Each of the the leaders presented a message to the government and people of South Sudan, stressing the need to maintain and work to protect the September 12 peace deal signed in Addis Ababa.

South Sudanese rebel leader and former first vice-president, Riek Machar, earlier returned to the country for the first time since 2016. He arrived in the capital, Juba, on Wednesday to join the event.

The former Vice President had fled to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo in 2016 under a hail of gunfire when an earlier peace deal collapsed.

Machar and President Salva Kiir signed a new peace agreement last month in the latest attempt to end the five-year war which has claimed thousands of lives.

In a letter to President Salva Kiir earlier this week, Machar demanded to take charge of his security upon return to the youngest African nation.

International partners and mediators remain sceptical about the respect of this new deal following multiple ceasefire violations.