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S.Sudan ex-VP Machar in Khartoum for 'medical treatment'

AFP , Tuesday 23 Aug 2016
File Photo: 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 (Photo: Reuters)

South Sudan's former rebel leader Riek Machar has arrived in Khartoum for "medical treatment," the Sudanese government said Tuesday, after he escaped to the Democratic Republic of Congo following deadly clashes last month.

Machar was replaced by Taban Deng Gai as South Sudan's first vice president after hundreds died in Juba last month in clashes between Machar's forces and government troops.

"Sudan has received Riek Machar on humanitarian grounds and so he can have medical treatment," Sudanese government spokesman Ahmed Bilal said in a statement.

He did not specify when Machar arrived in Khartoum, but said that he was in need of "immediate medical treatment".

"He is now stable. He will continue to stay in the country until he decides when to leave," Bilal said, without providing further details on the treatment.

After a 1983-2005 civil war, the mainly Christian south of Sudan split from the Muslim north on July 9, 2011, following a referendum six months earlier.

But in December 2013 a brutal civil war erupted in the world's youngest country between supporters of President Salva Kiir and Machar, after Kiir accused his deputy of plotting a coup.

Ties between Khartoum and Juba have strained since then amid allegations that Sudan backs Machar in the civil war that has killed tens of thousands and forced more than two million from their homes.

Sudan's announcement of Machar's presence in Khartoum comes just a day after Deng wrapped up his first official visit to Khartoum.

South Sudan's ambassador to Khartoum Mayan Dout confirmed that Juba had been informed about Machar's presence in Sudan.

"The government of Sudan informed Vice President Taban Deng that it had received Riek Machar on humanitarian grounds," Dout told AFP.

He added that President Salva Kiir was informed of Machar's presence in the Sudanese capital.

The civil war in South Sudan has split the country along ethnic lines and driven it to the brink of collapse.

A peace deal signed between the government and rebels almost a year ago has so far failed to end the conflict.

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© 2010 Ahram Online.