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Riek Machar leaves South Sudan for ‘safe’ country

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Riek Machar  PHOTO:AFP

Riek Machar PHOTO:AFP

South Sudan’s former rebel leader and ex-vice president Riek Machar has left the country following violent clashes last month and is now in a “safe” country in the region, his aides said.

“(Machar) has now been safely evacuated to a safe country within the region he will hold a press conference within the next 24 hours,” Mabior Garang de Mabior, a spokesman for Machar’s SPLM-IO party, said in a statement.

The statement did not reveal which country Machar had gone to.

Civil war broke out in South Sudan in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup. The fighting has split the country along ethnic lines and driven it to the brink of collapse.

A peace deal signed between the government and rebels almost a year ago has so far failed to end the conflict. And last month Juba was rocked by several days of heavy fighting between Kiir’s forces and those loyal to Machar.

Machar fled the capital Juba following heavy fighting in the city between July 8 and 11. He was subsequently replaced as vice president by Taban Deng Gai, a former friend and ally.

Gai warned Wednesday that Machar should stay out of politics to allow peace.

On Wednesday the United Nations launched a probe of a hotel attack in South Sudan in which soldiers raped women and assaulted aid workers while UN peacekeepers allegedly failed to act.

Last Friday the UN Security Council approved a US-drafted resolution to strengthen the 12,000-person peacekeeping mission with 4,000 additional troops drawn from regional armies and equipped with a more aggressive mandate.


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