Monday, July 25, 2016

South Sudan ex rebel leader fires possible rival

23 July 2016 - The United Nations Mission in South Sudan is appealing for help with the influx of people displaced following recent clashes between rival forces in the capital, Juba. Video: eNCA

South Sudan President Salva Kiir (R) shakes hands with former rebel leader and First Vice-President Riek Machar (L) after a new unity government was sworn-in, Juba, South Sudan, 29 April 2016. Photo: EPA/PHILLIP DHIL

Head of the rebel delegation General Taban Deng Gai, addresses journalists during South Sudan's negotiations in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 8, 2014. Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File photo
Machar has not been seen in public since he left the capital Juba after clashes that threatened to destroy a 2015 deal to end the country's civil conflict.
His movement, the SPLM/A (IO), on Friday accused the government of seeking to replace Machar with Taban Deng Gai -- the former rebels' chief negotiator during the peace talks.
Any attempt to force out Machar would inflict "a devastating blow" to the unity government and the August 2015 peace accord, it warned.
In a statement addressed to President Salva Kiir and received by AFP on Saturday, Machar said he had fired Teng Deng Gai as minister for mines in the transitional government.
"I will nominate his replacement as soon as I return to Juba once the security arrangement is put in place by a third party force", he said.
This is a reference to an eventual deployment in Juba of a contingent of African troops as part of the UN mission in the country.
In the runup to the latest developments, Kiir had appealed for Machar to return to Juba and work together towards rebuilding peace.
He had pledged to guarantee his rival's safety.
"There is no point to come back to be assassinated," Machar's spokesman Goi Jooyul Yol told AFP on Friday, speaking from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
"Dr Machar is still being hunted around Juba," he said, adding that "we don't trust" Kiir's security pledge.
Juba was rocked by days of heavy fighting in early July between government forces and fighters loyal to Machar which erupted as he was meeting Kiir in the presidential palace.
More than 300 people were killed.
The violence escalated fears of a return to the brutal civil war that erupted just over two years after independence in 2011.
Kiir has rejected a proposal by the African Union to deploy a robust protection force in South Sudan and is also against beefing up the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission UNMISS.
But the SPLM/A (IO) is in favour of an independent force.

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