South Sudan: Rebel Leader Riek Machar Fails to Return to Juba

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South Sudan’s main rebel leader and returning vice president failed to arrive in the capital as scheduled on Monday.

Riek Machar’s highly anticipated return to Juba is supposed to mark the beginning of peace in South Sudan after more than two years of relentless violence. However, his arrival in the capital has been held up by a number of factors – the latest “logistical issues,” according to his spokesperson.

 

Further delays

Without giving any specific reason for Machar’s late arrival, spokesperson William Ezekiel says Machar will now arrive in Juba on Tuesday. The spokesperson also took the usual step of reaffirming his leader’s commitment to the country’s failing peace deal.

“We are committed to the peace agreement, but there have been logistical issues and the first vice president, Riek Machar, will come tomorrow,” Ezekiel said. He also revealed a number of posters welcoming Machar had been torn down overnight.

Ezekiel gave no expansion on the kind of logistical issues that prevented Machar’s scheduled arrival in Juba. However, Machar’s press secretary James Gatdet Dak listed a number of problems that could hold up the incoming vice president’s return last week.

 

South Sudan still waiting for peace

As the speculation around Machar’s return to Juba escalates, the most important question remains impossible to answer. Even if Machar and his opposition group resolve their differences with President Salva Kiir and his government, there is still a long way to go before peace can be brought to South Sudan.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly highlighted the importance of ending the country’s conflict, not just their own rivalry. How easy that will be in a country torn apart by the pair and their supporters for more than two years remains to be seen.

So, while Juba awaits the return of Riek Machar, the people of South Sudan continue waiting to see any real signs of peace in their conflicted country.