US accuses both South Sudanese factions of frustrating peace efforts

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The US is accusing both factions in South Sudan’s two-year conflict of frustrating efforts to bring peace into the country, and has even gone ahead to pull funding for a flight to return rebel leader Riek Machar to the capital, Juba.

The US State Department said South Sudan’s government has as recently as Saturday refused to give landing permission to planes carryng Machar.

The US also said that the rebel leader had obstructed arrangements by arbitrarily asking for more forces and heavy weapons to precede his arrival.

Machar was due in Juba on April 18, but failed to show up, citing refusal by the government to abide to agreed demands.

Under an AU-backed peace deal, Machar will take up the role of vice-president under President Salva Kiir in a transitional Unity government.

South Sudan descended into chaos in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar, his then deputy, of plotting to overthrow his government.

Machar refuted the claims but went ahead to mobilize a rebel force to fight the government.

There have been high hopes in Juba that the rebel leader would arrive and take up the vice president role, a sign of peace in the world’s youngest nation.

Ahead of his arrival, an inter-ethnic wrestling tournament was held in Juba to reconcile the different ethnic groups of South Sudan.

Machar had previously refused to return to Juba before his chief of staff Simon Gatwech was allowed into Juba.

Gatwech landed in Juba on Monday, increasing hope that Machar may be arriving in the capital anytime now.

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