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South Sudan Rebel Defector Returns to Juba

Lul Ruai Koang (left), ex-spokesman for Riek Machar's rebel group, returned to Juba after breaking with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO).

Hours after he announced he was breaking away from Riek Machar's South Sudanese rebel movement, former opposition military spokesman Lul Ruai Koang returned to Juba Thursday and vowed to step up his efforts to end 14 months of fighting in the country.

"I am happy to be back after nearly two years, and we are taking the search for peace to greater heights," Ruai told reporters when he arrived at Juba International Airport from Nairobi.

"I have come to Juba so that we find a very speedy way of bringing peace to South Sudan," he said.

Behind-the-scene deals

Ruai announced on Wednesday in Nairobi that he was breaking with the SPLM-IO and setting up a new rebel movement after becoming disillusioned with the peace process led by regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Ruai said it appeared that behind-the-scene deals were being cut at the IGAD-led talks to reinstate Machar in his old position of vice president in exchange for peace.

A power-sharing proposal signed by Machar and President Salva Kiir late last month provides for President Salva Kiir to remain as head of a transitional government and for Machar to return to government as one of two vice presidents. It was impossible to confirm, however, if the IGAD-brokered proposal was the result of a back-room deal.

Ruai was met at the airport in Juba by former rebel leader David Yau Yau, who last year ended his long rebellion against the government and was appointed administrator of Pibor County. Pibor County was last year given a degree of self-rule by President Kiir in a bid to promote development in the previously marginalized region.

David Yau Yau, peacemaker

Yau Yau said he was part of a government delegation that convinced Ruai to abandon armed rebellion, seek peace and help improve the lives of the South Sudanese people.

"This is part of the peace we are fighting for," he said. "And this is a challenge to the old age who are using us as their broom for sweeping their rooms. Youths have come up with a fundamental way of solving our own problems. To me, this is a great achievement."

Ruai said in Nairobi on Wednesday that he wants Akobo County in Jonglei state to be given a similar status to Pibor County, to boost development and help the Nuer people who live there.

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