South Sudan's Machar returns to Juba

South Sudan's Machar returns to Juba

"Now that Dr. Riek has come and has taken the oath of office as the First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan we will immediately proceed to establish the Transitional Government of National Unity. I believe this is the only way to return South Sudan to the path of peace, stability and prosperity".

Machar - whose return was delayed after a row last week over the weapons he could bring with him - will be sworn in as first vice-president alongside his longtime rival, President Salva Kiir in the capital Juba. "It's the best hope that South Sudan has had in a very long time", said Power, who warned that significant problems remain and urged the worldwide community to maintain pressure on both sides to implement the peace deal.

There were shouts of joy at the airport as his supporters greeted Riek Machar, back in the capital, Juba, for the first time in more than two years.

In one possible sign of progress, Machar's chief of staff, General Simon Gatwech Dual, flew into in Juba on Monday, accompanied by the 195 soldiers and the weapons the rebel leader had asked for.

In a statement on Sunday night, the US Department of State spokesperson John Kirby said America was disappointed by what it called a failure by both the government and Machar's Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition in implementing the peace agreement.

The sides signed a peace deal last August but implementation has been slow and fighting has continued in much of the country.

However, Mathok did not confirm Machar's expected arrival to Juba on Tuesday.

Civil war erupted in December 2013 when President Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of planning a coup, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings that have split the country along ethnic lines.

"There are challenges that we need to overcome".

United Nations Development Programme communications consultant Janet Maya told this writer from Juba that tension was high before the Machar's plane landed.

The two old foes had described each other as brothers after fighting a bitter two-year civil war in which tens of thousands of South Sudanese had been killed and more than a million more internally and externally displaced.

While optimism and celebration marked the country's 2011 declaration of independence from Sudan, the two-and-a-half-year conflict has had a devastating impact on its people and the oil sector on which its economy in based.

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