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South Sudan Rebel Leader Again Fails to Return to Juba


FILE - South Sudan's opposition leader Riek Machar speaks during a briefing ahead of his return to South Sudan as vice president, in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, April 9, 2016.

FILE - South Sudan's opposition leader Riek Machar speaks during a briefing ahead of his return to South Sudan as vice president, in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, April 9, 2016.

South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar failed to return to the capital for a second straight day Tuesday, saying the government did not provide flight clearance for a plane carrying his top general.

Rebel spokesman William Ezekiel told VOA no date has been set for when Machar will arrive in Juba to be sworn in as vice president, per terms of a peace deal signed last August to end 2½ years of civil war.

Government spokesman Michael Makuei told reporters that the rebel general, Simon Gatwech, was trying to bring more than 200 extra soldiers with him, beyond the agreed number of rebel troops allowed in Juba.

Makuei also accused the rebels of trying to bring anti-tank rounds and laser-guided missiles.

Rebel spokesman Ezekiel said Gatwech is only bringing 45 troops, in line with agreements, and said they have no such heavy weaponry.

FILE - South Sudanese rebel soldiers raise their weapons at a military camp in the capital Juba, South Sudan, Thursday, April 7, 2016.

FILE - South Sudanese rebel soldiers raise their weapons at a military camp in the capital Juba, South Sudan, Thursday, April 7, 2016.

The government itself is accused of bringing extra troops into the city, though international cease-fire monitors have not commented on the claims.

Machar was initially scheduled to arrive Monday, but an issue with flights delayed that arrival.

South Sudan erupted into civil war in December 2013, six months after President Salva Kiir fired Machar as vice president.

Much of the fighting has been along ethnic lines, with Kiir's Dinka tribe battling Machar's Nuer tribe.

The U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday that the fighting and ongoing food shortages have now displaced more than 2.3 million South Sudanese, including more than 670,000 who have fled to neighboring countries.

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