US demands rebel chief's return to Juba

2016-04-24 22:17
(Ebrahim Hamid, AFP)

(Ebrahim Hamid, AFP)

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Washington - The United States blamed South Sudan's government on Sunday for the latest hold-up in efforts to end its civil war, but warned both sides the world will not tolerate backsliding.

Rebel leader Riek Machar had been due to fly to Juba from Ethiopia on Saturday to join a transitional government, but President Salva Kiir's government blocked his flight.

He is now due to return on Monday, but US special envoy to South Sudan Donald Booth said repeated delays had called into question both parties' commitment to the agreement.

"This marks the third time this week that plans for Machar to return ... have been frustrated by one side or the other," the senior diplomat told AFP in Washington.

"Machar frustrated the first two attempts by a last minute insistence on bringing additional security forces and additional heavy weapons - RPGs - with him," he said.

"Then yesterday it was the government that closed the airport," he added.

"The implementation of the peace agreement requires the formation of the transitional government - and that requires the return of Riek Machar to Juba."

Booth warned that the United Nations Security Council is due to meet on Tuesday to discuss the crisis and that both sides could face additional international sanctions.

"They are definitely on notice," he said. "The entire world is expecting them to live up to their word and to implement the agreement that they signed last August."

Civil war erupted in South Sudan, Africa's youngest nation, in December 2013 when Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of plotting a coup.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than two million been driven from their homes in a conflict that has reignited ethnic divisions.

Machar fled Juba when war broke out but has since agreed to forge a transitional unity government with arch-rival Kiir, returning to his former post of vice-president.

Read more on:    riek machar  |  salva kiir  |  us  |  south sudan  |  east africa

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