BBC’s Analysis: Dr. Riek Machar be kept away to please Salva Kirr

KerryJames Copnall

Africa editor, BBC World Service

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?

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