South Sudan’s exiled rebel leader has called for war against the government, ending an internationally-backed peace deal.
Former vice president Riek Machar said on Sunday that he will “wage a popular armed resistance against the authoritarian and fascist regime of President Salva Kiir in order to bring peace, freedom, democracy and the rule of law in the country.”
Machar fled to Khartoum after clashes broke out between his supporters and Kiir’s in the South Sudanese capital Juba in July.
He added that the international community should “declare the regime in Juba as a rogue government and a spoiler of peace that is threatening regional and international peace and security.”
The announcement is Machar’s first since the fighting broke out. At the time, he referred to the clashes as an “assassination attempt.”
South Sudan has witnessed a new wave of conflict since July 8, when gunfire erupted near the state house in Juba as Kiir and then vice president Machar were holding a meeting. More than 300 people were killed in the clashes. The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011. It has been going through turmoil ever since.
A bloody civil war in South Sudan began in December 2013, when Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of plotting a coup against him. The two parties then got involved in a cycle of retaliatory killings that have split the impoverished country along ethnic lines.
The two sides eventually signed an agreement in August last year to bring the conflict to an end. As part of the deal, Machar returned to Juba in April to take up the post of vice president in a national unity government. Despite the peace deal, battles persist across the African state.