South Sudan President Grants Amnesty to Machar, Rebels

South Sudan President Grants Amnesty to Machar, Rebels

Thursday, 9 August, 2018 - 08:30
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (C) and rebel leader Riek Machar meet in Addis Ababa in June. (AP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir granted on Thursday general amnesty to rebels, including SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar, reported state radio.

"President Salva Kiir issued a presidential decree... pardoning Dr. Riek Machar and other groups that took up arms against the government since 2013. The decree comes into effect on the date 8, August 2018," State Radio Juba said, reading the decree.

Kiir also reiterated a call for his forces to observe a ceasefire agreed in June by both the government and Machar's rebels.

The announcement comes days after the two men signed a power-sharing deal in the Sudanese capital Khartoum aimed at ending a nearly five-year conflict, which erupted in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar of plotting coup.

The war has killed tens of thousands, forced a quarter of the population to flee their homes and wrecked the country's oil-dependent economy.

Sunday's power-sharing agreement paves the way for Machar to return to South Sudan as one of five vice-presidents, a role he occupied until shortly before the conflict erupted.

A final peace accord must now be signed, under the auspices of regional bloc the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), followed by the formation of a transitional government that will hold power for three years until elections can be organized.

The last time a peace deal was signed returning Machar to the capital was in 2015, but the agreement collapsed during days of heavy fighting in Juba after which the rebel leader fled into exile.

SPLM-IO is the largest of the rebel groups fighting Kiir's government, and fighters allied to it control several areas close to the capital. Other anti-government groups have also emerged, some of which have fought against each other.

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