, JUBA, Apr 26 – South Sudan rebel chief Riek Machar finally returned to Juba on Tuesday, urging people to come together as he prepared to join a unity government formed to end more than two years of ferocious civil war.
“We need to bring our people together so they can unite and heal the wounds,” said Machar, who was greeted by ministers and diplomats as he stepped out of his plane after a week-long delay that had threatened a long-negotiated peace deal.
Machar, who had originally been due back on April 18, was expected to head immediately from the airport to the presidential palace to be sworn in.
His delayed arrival had infuriated the international community after the months of negotiations spent on getting the rivals to return to the same city and share power in the world’s newest country.
Ensuring they work together in a unity government, and that the thousands of rival armed forces now in separate camps inside the capital keep their guns quiet, will be an even bigger challenge.
Top rebel military commander Simon Gatwech Dual returned this Monday, in a key step forward in the floundering peace process.
“We are one South Sudan,” Dual shouted, waving a walking stick in the air as he marched off the plane.