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South Sudan's former vice-president absconds after attacks
SOUTH SUDAN'S REBEL LEADER RIEK MACHAR HAS FLED THE COUNTRY, A SPOKESMAN FOR HIS PARTY SAID ON THURSDAY. PHOTO: MULUGETA AYENE/AP/SIPA
South Sudan's former vice-president Riek Machar has fled the country after his office accused soldiers controlled by President Salva Kiir of "using every type of weapon in their possession in South Sudan to eliminate him".
Machar's spokesman Gatdet Dak said on Thursday that forces linked to Kiir "have been hunting [Machar], so for his safety he decided to relocate." He said Machar had sustained a minor leg injury following several weeks of trekking in the wilderness.
Last month, fresh fighting broke out in Juba, the country's capital, killing hundreds of people and forcing a delicate peace deal forged in April to the brink of shattering.
Machar's office said that government troops had tried to kill him in those attacks and in the weeks that followed.
Gatdet Dak did not confirm media reports that Machar had arrived in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kiir’s officials rejected claims that government troops had pursued Machar, saying he should return to Juba peacefully.
Since the skirmishes in July, Kiir has appointed Taban Deng Gai, a former negotiator for the SPLA In Opposition (SPLA-IO), as vice-president.
Machar had returned to Juba in April as part of a deal to halt more than two years of fighting that broke out after Kiir sacked Machar from the post of vice-president.