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S. Sudan seeks regional backing against Machar-led rebels

Tuesday, 27th September 2016

September 27, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudan government has started \r\nsoliciting for support from countries in the region not to host and \r\nprovide military support to a rebel groups with ambitions to oust the \r\nJuba regime through unconstitutional means.

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Riek\r\n Machar sits in his field office in a rebel controlled territory in \r\nJonglei State February 1, 2014. (Photo/Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)
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The presidential advisor on security affairs disclosed that officials\r\n from the world¡¯s youngest nation have approached regional leaders, \r\nparticularly countries with interest in the country, over the matter.

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"There is a peace agreement which is being implemented already. This \r\nis the agreement which was mediated by the countries in the region,¡± Tut\r\n Kew Gatluak told Sudan Tribune Monday.

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"These countries [in the region] now need to continue to support the \r\nimplementation of peace and isolate those who are against it. They \r\nshould host and provide any kind of support, whether be it political and\r\n military support to those against the implementation of peace \r\nagreement,¡± he added.

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According to the official, South Sudan is now appealing to countries \r\nwithin the region immediately expel rebel groups within its territories.

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"They [should] really try their best to discourage such people and \r\nconvince them to join peace¡±, stressed the presidential advisor.

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Gatluak is the first senior government official to react to a report \r\nin which the leadership of armed opposition under the ousted first vice\r\n president and leader, Riek Machar, announced resumption of armed \r\nstruggle after holding a consultative meeting in Khartoum.

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Machar, who is currently in Khartoum after fleeing Juba on July 11, \r\nhas been denied asylum in Ethiopia where he had hoped to take refuge \r\nafter completing treatment from a Khartoum-based hospital.

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Last week, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, told \r\nreporters on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly \r\nmeeting in New York, that Addis Ababa "does not need someone who is \r\nleading an armed struggle on its soil.¡±

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Ethiopia, after the civil war broke out in Juba in December 2013, \r\nplayed an important role in mediating peace to end conflict in South \r\nSudan and also hosted Machar for most of the two-and-a-half years of \r\nthe peace negotiations led by the regional bloc (IGAD). However, Addis \r\nAbaba is now bowing to pressure from Juba and the dynamics of the \r\ndeployment of the UN-backed regional protection force.

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Ethiopia was supposed to provide the bulk of the 4,000 troops and \r\nthis was going to complicate their participation, if the country gives \r\nasylum to Machar, who is still determined to wage armed struggle.

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South Sudan President Salva Kiir removed Machar from his position and\r\n replaced him with his former lead negotiator, Taban Deng Gai, as the \r\ncountry¡¯s first vice president, citing his prolonged absence.

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Machar is also experiencing difficulties with his political \r\nactivities in Sudan after authorities stopped him from holding a press \r\nconference in Khartoum following a week-long leadership meeting that \r\nexplored the ongoing political crisis in South Sudan.

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Sudan¡¯s information minister, Ahmed Bilal Osman said Machar was in \r\nKhartoum for treatment and would not be permitted to conduct political \r\nactivities.

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He, however, said Khartoum was waiting for the implementation of the \r\nsecurity arrangements so that Machar returns to South Sudan.

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Machar vowed he would only to return to the South Sudanese capital, \r\nafter the deployment of the regional protection force, which Juba \r\nappears to be reluctant to accept as a boost to the 12,000-strong UN \r\npeacekeeping force in the young nation.

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According to a UN Security Council resolution, the protection force \r\nis supposed to act as a buffer between President Kiir¡¯s soldiers and \r\nthose of Machar as well as secure humanitarian supply lines and key \r\ninstallations.

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(ST)

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