KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — South Sudan's president has appointed his rival, rebel leader Riek Machar, as first vice president in a possible government of national unity, a presidential spokesman said Friday.
President Salva Kiir expects Machar to travel to Juba, the South Sudanese capital, soon, Ateny Wek Ateny told The Associated Press.
"I don't see any reason why he should not come to Juba. If there is a reason, then he should tell the world," Ateny said.
It was not possible to talk to Machar, who has been living in Ethiopia, but he has previously raised concerns about security arrangements as well as the creation of new states in South Sudan.
Machar and Kiir signed a peace deal in August, although sporadic fighting has continued between government forces and rebels in some parts of the oil-producing East African country.
Machar had been Kiir's deputy until July 2013, when his firing triggered a political crisis that later boiled over into a rebellion following a violent split among the security forces in Juba. Some of the fighting was along ethnic lines, and both sides have been accused of carrying out serious crimes against civilians.
Implementation of the agreement signed in August has stalled because Kiir ordered the creation of 28 states from the existing 10, undermining a power-sharing provision in the deal that gave Machar's side control of two of the original states. Machar also wants the government to pull its troops from Juba, as called for in the peace deal.
Despite the peace accord, both sides continue to seek new weapons, according to a report released last month by a U.N. panel of experts.
The panel said that as of mid-September, South Sudan's government was apparently trying to arrange payment for four attack helicopters from a Uganda-based company, Bosasy Logistics. The rebels have received ammunition and arms from neighboring Sudan, the report said.