South Sudan VP says regional leaders support Machar exile

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South Sudan’s first vice president Taban Deng Gai on Tuesday said that regional leaders are in support of opposition leader Riek Machar’s exile in South Africa.

Gai, a former opposition commander under Machar, took over the vice presidency after the latter fled the capital in July last year following renewed clashes between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to Machar.

The vice president said that the East African leaders didn’t want Machar to move around in their countries to plan ways of increasing conflict in South Sudan.

Machar is currently in Pretoria, where he went to seek medical treatment but could not return to his country or the neighboring ones.

South Sudan descended into war in December 2013 after President Kiir accused Machar of plotting to overthrow his government, claims that Machar denied but went on to mobilize a rebel force to fight the government.

A peace deal that was signed in 2015 has continually been violated by both sides, with clashed erupting frequently.

Gai asked Machar’s followers to denounce rebellion and return to Juba.