A group of 15 South Sudanese rebel delegates returned to the capital, Juba, a crucial step to carrying out a peace deal to end the oil-producing nation’s two-year civil war.
The arrival of the group marks the start of implementation of a transitional government, Hassan Ramazan Laku, the leader of the team, told reporters Monday at the capital’s airport. About 135 more rebels were delayed because of technical issues with their plane and will arrive soon, said Paul Akol Kordit, a spokesman for the country’s ruling party.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and over two million forced from their homes since South Sudan’s war erupted in in December 2013, with crude production slashed by at least a third. Under an August pact, rebel leader Riek Machar will return as President Salva Kiir’s deputy for a 30-month transitional period leading to elections.
The rebel team, which will be incorporated into national institutions across the country, was supposed to return to Juba at least three weeks ago. Travel was delayed, with the government citing a dispute over the number of representatives the insurgents wanted to bring and rebels saying they needed help to cover travel costs.