Sept. 8, 2016
Why has a senior US official said Riek Machar should not go back to South Sudan to take up his post as first vice-president? (see earlier post)
In part, the US seem to be recognising a reality – there appears to be little prospect of Mr Machar returning any time soon.
The US, and other countries, are also involved in a complicated balancing act, as they try to persuade the South Sudanese government to accept a regional military peacekeeping force.
Perhaps the Americans feel that recognising Taban Deng as first vice-president, rather than Mr Machar, will please President Salva Kiir and his camp, and smooth the way for the peacekeepers.
There is also probably a feeling that Mr Deng is better able to work with the president – an old ally – than Mr Machar was.
But as with so much in South Sudan, the key question here is a military one: does Mr Deng, or Mr Machar, have the loyalty of most of the rebel generals?