Rebel leader returns to South Sudan


South Sudan’s main rebel leader committed to the latest deal to end a half decade of bloody civil war as he returned to the capital for the first time since fleeing violence more than two years ago.
Former Vice President Riek Machar temporarily returned to Juba on Wednesday to take part in celebrations for a so-called “final, final” peace deal. But cease-fire violations and a series of missed deadlines for establishing new institutions are casting doubt on whether the latest bid to quell a conflict that may have caused as many as 400,000 deaths will be successful. “We are coming to confirm to you that we are for peace,” Machar told a ceremony attended by the presidents of countries including Sudan, Uganda and Somalia. “All the soldiers will be brought to work together. All the rebels holding guns should put down the guns and come out for peace.”
The war in the oil-producing country has spurred a regional refugee crisis and brought near-economic collapse since it began in December 2013. Under deals signed with President Salva Kiir’s government this year, Machar will return as Kiir’s deputy and insurgents will be given roles in an expanded cabinet and parliament, beginning around May.
A similar attempt at forming a transitional government failed in mid-2016 and spurred some of the worst violence of the conflict. Machar was eventually forced into exile in South Africa.
The head of the United Nations mission in South Sudan, David Shearer, said there’s “much hard work ahead” to ensure the new agreement is implemented.
“The personalities who signed the agreement have in the past been former friends and foes,” he told the same ceremony. “So the big challenge ahead is to build trust and confidence between the parties—and between the parties and the people.”

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