South Sudan opposition leader in South Africa for treatment: spokesman

South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kenya's capital Nairobi July 8, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo
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NAIROBI (Reuters) – South Sudanese opposition leader Riek Machar is in South Africa to receive medical treatment, his spokesman said on Thursday, after the former vice president fled fighting that erupted in the South Sudanese capital in July.

Machar initially travelled through the bush from South Sudan to Democratic Republic of Congo, sustaining a leg injury on the way after an aide said his group had been pursued by forces loyal to his rival President Salva Kiir.

From Congo, Machar travelled to Sudan where he also received medical care. “He is now in South Africa for medical treatment,” his Nairobi-based spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, told Reuters, adding that he was likely to stay there for about a week.

He did not say where he would go afterwards.

There was no immediate comment from South African officials.

Political rivalry between Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and Machar, a Nuer, sparked a civil war that has often followed ethnic lines.

A peace deal was signed in 2015, but it proved shaky from the outset and fierce fighting flared in Juba in July of this year, just weeks after Machar had returned to resume his post as vice president.

Clashes have broken out elsewhere in South Sudan since then, raising concerns about a return to all-out conflict.

(Additional reporting by James Macharia in Johannesburg; writing by Edmund Blair; editing by Mark Heinrich)


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