South Sudan leader replaces rival Machar as vice president

July 26, 2016 1:30 pm

Former first Vice President Riek
Machar (L) delivers a speech to journalists next to South
President Salva Kiir (C) and Vice President James Wani Igga (R) in Juba
on July 8, 2016. ©AFP

’s president has
replaced his vice president and rival Riek Machar, in a move that could
undermine last year’s peace accord and trigger a fresh wave of violence
in ’s youngest nation.

The president said on Monday that he had replaced Machar with a former peace negotiator, General Taban Deng Gai.
Deng
Gai, who had also been named leader of a faction of the armed
opposition on Saturday, will serve until Machar returns to the capital,
Juba, according to Machar’s chief of staff Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth.
Machar,
a former rebel leader, was sworn in as first vice president in April,
eight months after the peace agreement was signed between the government
and rebels loyal to him.
However, he left Juba with his troops
earlier this month after fresh fighting erupted between his
loyalists and government troops. Machar said he would only return if an
international peacekeeping force guarantees his safety.

Plumes
of smoke rise after South Sudanese government attack helicopters
hovered over the Checkpoint district of the capital, Juba, amid fighting
with rebel forces on July 11, 2016. ©AFPThe
last August peace deal put an end to two years of fighting that broke
out when the president removed Machar as his deputy in 2013. The
violence killed more than 10,000 people.
Clashes, however, erupted
again between the two sides in Juba in early July, killing hundreds of
people and forcing thousands of others to flee to neighboring Uganda,
according to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).
Forces from two rival groups fought each other with tanks, helicopters and other heavy weapons.
There are numerous militia forces that do not abide by peace agreements and are driven by local agendas.
The chaos comes as the country marked the fifth anniversary of its independence from Sudan earlier this month.

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