Aides confirm ex South Sudanese vice president Machar has left the country

18 Aug 16

South Sudan’s former vice president and rebel leader fled the country amid the most recent surge in violence last month, his aides have confirmed.

Riek Machar, whose whereabouts have been unknown since clashes in the country’s capital Juba in July, is reportedly in exile in another “safe country” in east Africa and will give a press conference shortly, aides said.

Machar, who led South Sudanese rebels throughout the country’s brutal, two-year civil war, has since been replaced as vice president, a position he held under the terms of a failed August 2015 peace deal.

He took up the role only a few months ago, bringing hopes of an end to a conflict that has left thousands dead and many more displaced.

But the lull in the conflict was short-lived. The heavy fighting between troops loyal to the country’s president Salva Kiir and those loyal to Machar prompted more than 70,000 people to flee across the border to Uganda alone.

Machar was removed as vice president and fled too, while his troops were chased out of Juba by government troops. He was subsequently replaced as vice president by his former ally Taban Deng Gai.

On Wednesday, Gai said his predecessor should stay out of South Sudanese politics in order to allow for peace. Gai said he would work with Kiir to bring peace to South Sudan.

South Sudan has been embroiled in an ethnically charged war since 2013, only two years after it gained independence from Sudan.

The conflict has left the country on the brink of collapse, with the economy and infrastructure in ruins and its people in extreme poverty. 

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