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South Sudan VP says regional leaders back Machar's exile
Last Updated: 2017-01-04 08:18 | Xinhua
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JUBA, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan's First Vice President Taban Deng Gai said Tuesday that regional leaders support the country's opposition leader Riek Machar's exile in South Africa.

Gai, a former opposition commander under Machar, said that leaders from East African countries didn't want Machar to move around in their countries to plan ways of increasing conflict in South Sudan.

Machar fled South Sudan and was replaced by Gai as first vice president after renewed fighting broke out in July 2016 between his forces and troops of President Salva Kiir. He is now in residence in Pretoria, South Arica.

"He (Machar) is hidden there because he is spreading war," Gai told a crowd in Yei, a town some 150 km southwest of the capital Juba.

Gai alleged regional countries saw Machar as a war monger after he declared renewed rebellion against the government following the July 2016 fighting.

South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 after a fallout between President Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar.

A peace deal signed in 2015 under UN pressure between the two led to a short-lived unity government formed in April last year, but was shattered by the renewed fighting.

Gai, who was Machar's chief peace negotiator, currently heads a splinter faction of the opposition party in the unity government.

Violence in the country has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than one million to neighboring countries since late 2013.

Gai asked Machar's followers to denounce rebellion and return to Juba. "Machar will not be seen again. He would be seen again in elections if there is peace," he said.

Under the August 2015 peace agreement, South Sudan is due to hold elections in 2018. Enditem

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