South Sudan Rebel Leader to Return to Juba

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar has said he will return to the country’s capital, Juba, once his troops are in place to provide security. Machar held a news conference in Addis Ababa a day after South Sudan’s president reappointed him as vice president.

Rebel leader Riek Machar told reporters he will soon return to Juba, now that he has been re-appointed vice president of South Sudan.

FILE - South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar addresses a news conference in Uganda's capital Kampala, Jan. 26, 2016.

“In this preparation we have difficulties. The government has not committed to transfer our troops,” he said. “The international community has committed to a small portion of 400. We are still asking others to help transport these troops in the shortest possible time, so that I can be in Juba. If they transport within three days, I will be in Juba in the next day.”

South Sudan’s warring parties signed a peace deal in August that called for a transitional government of national unity, and a division of powers between the government and the opposition.
Implementation stalled and looked impossible after President Salva Kiir changed the political landscape by establishing 28 states, although the peace agreement is based on an understanding of 10 states.

Machar said the issue of the number of states will be dealt with swiftly:

“Once the government is formed, even if it were formed tomorrow, the 28 states will be suspended. And within one month, we should negotiate and come up with a number of states that are agreed. If we fail, we revert to the 10 in the peace agreement,” he said.

Machar was previously vice president of South Sudan from independence in 2011 until July 2013, when President Kiir fired him and the rest of the Cabinet.

The political rift erupted into violence that December and has never entirely stopped despite multiple ceasefires. The conflict has displaced more than 2 million in an already poor and underdeveloped country.

Both sides are accused of having committed grave human rights violations during the conflict.