South Sudan: UK, US & Norway to Transport Machar Troops into Juba

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The UK, US and Norway have vowed to transport Riek Machar’s troops to South Sudan’s capital, apving the way for his return.

The returning vice-president is waiting for assurance that his 3,000-strong group of bodyguards will be in Juba to protect his safety. Machar’s return to South Sudan would be a major step towards establishing peace in the country after more than two years of civil war.

 

Machar urged to return quickly

South Sudan President Salva Kiir announced on Friday that Machar would retake his position as the country’s vice-president, but called on him to return within seven days. Machar has been living in exile in neighbouring Ethiopia, as leader of South Sudan’s armed rebel group.

Machar and Kiir’s forces have been fighting aggressively for more than two years now and the UN has also urged Machar to make a speedy return. His reinstatement as the country’s vice-president is part of the country’s peace deal which has, so far, failed to end violence in South Sudan.

The UK, US and Norway committing to transport Machar’s troops back into Juba shows how important his return is considered. Once the rebel leader retakes his position as vice-president his first job will be to establish a transitional government in South Sudan and ensure the nation’s peace deal is successfully implemented.

 

Logistic difficulties

While hopes will be high that Machar’s return to South Sudan will signify the start of peace in the country, a number of logistic difficulties still need to be overcome. Richard Croker, the UK deputy ambassador to South Sudan, highlighted some of the challenges in the way of Machar’s comeback:

“We need to hear and say okay how many locations, not just Pagak but many locations and that costs a lot of money,” he told local station, Eye Radio. “Logistically [it is] very difficult,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Kiir has hinted that implementing South Sudan’s transitional government could start as soon as this week, if Machar is able to organise his return by Friday.