South Sudan’s rebel leader and former first vice president Riek Machar has reportedly left for a neighboring country weeks after he fled the capital, Juba. An opposition spokesman on Thursday confirmed that Machar had left a day earlier to a “safe country within the region,” and was expected to hold a news conference on Friday. Machar’s spokesman James Gatdet Dak said in a separate statement that he “has been successfully relocated to a neighboring country” after one month of stay in the bushes around Juba.
Dak thanked rebel forces for foiling what he called a “ruthless attempt” by President Salva Kiir to kill Machar. Thousands of people have been killed and more than three million forced to flee their homes in the war that started in December 2013, when Kiir sacked Machar as his deputy after accusing him of plotting a coup.
The conflict broke out only two years after the country seceded from Sudan. The two sides eventually signed an agreement in August 2015 to bring the war to an end. As part of the deal, Machar returned to Juba on April 26 to take up the post of vice president in a national unity government.