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South Sudan rebel representives arrive in Juba as part of peace deal


South Sudan battle ragesSouth Sudan rebel representatives arrived in the capital Juba on Monday as part of a peace deal aimed at ending two years of civil war, an AFP reporter said.

The team, who travelled from the rebel-held east of South Sudan into Ethiopia before flying to Juba, are supposed to begin the formation of a transitional government of national unity but did not include rebel chief Riek Machar and other senior officials.

President Salva Kiir and Machar have repeatedly accused each other of breaking successive peace deals but say they remain committed to the August 26 agreement, despite missing every listed deadline. The rebel delegates — including Machar — were due in Juba four weeks ago.

Fighting continues, and the conflict now involves multiple militia forces who pay little heed to paper peace deals, driven by local agendas or revenge attacks.

Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told UN radio the two sides are, “going to be peace partners instead of war partners.”

Both sides are accused of having perpetrated ethnic massacres, recruited and killed children and carried out widespread rape, torture and forced displacement of populations to “cleanse” areas of their opponents.

“The people of South Sudan will realise that the peace has come… this is a good beginning for South Sudan,” Ateny said.

The conflict has triggered a humanitarian crisis with 2.3 million people forced from their homes and 4.6 million in need of emergency food. Tens of thousands have died and the economy is in ruins.

UN-backed experts have warned of a “concrete risk of famine” if fighting continues.

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