Exiled South Sudan rebel leader returns to capital following truce

Exiled South Sudan rebel leader returns to capital following truce
South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar has returned to the capital Juba on Wednesday following a truce with the government.
2 min read
31 October, 2018
South Sudan has been ravaged by war [Getty]

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar returned to the country's capital on Wednesday to take part in a peace ceremony, AFP has reported, the first time he has entered Juba in two years.

Machar is due to be reinstated as vice president, and has not set foot in Juba since he fled in July 2016 after an earlier peace accord collapsed leading to an outbreak in fighting.

The rebel chief arrived at Juba airport at 9:30am (6:30am GMT) and was welcomed by President Salva Kiir, Machar's former ally who became a bitter enemy.

The two leaders will attend a peace ceremony later Wednesday to publicly welcome the most recent truce, signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in September.

It is still not clear if Machar will stay in Juba after attending the ceremony, as his aides have expressed concerns over his safety.

South Sudan's civil war began in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar - then his deputy of plotting a coup.

The conflict was split along ethnic lines, seeing mass rape, the forced recruitment of child soldiers and attacks on civilians. It has caused one of the world's deepest humanitarian crises.

Fighting has killed an estimated 380,000 people, uprooted a third of the population, forced nearly two-and-a-half million into exile as refugees and triggered several deadly famine.