Former South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar has escaped to a nearby country after an attack by rival troops led to him fleeing a power-sharing government last month, an opposition spokesman said.

Machar’s followers are committed to his return to the capital, Juba, to continue his role as President Salva Kiir’s deputy after a regional force is deployed under the United Nations to secure the city, Mabior Garang said in a statement on his Twitter account.

Machar went back to Juba in April to take his place in an internationally backed transitional government designed to try and end a more than two-year civil war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives in the oil-producing nation. He and his troops were forced out of the city by fighters loyal to Kiir during about five days of fighting in early July. A faction of Machar’s group later named Taban Deng Gai as its leader, who Kiir accepted as his vice president.

Conflict broke out in Africa’s newest country in December 2013 when Kiir accused rivals including Machar of plotting a coup against him and the ruling party and army fractured.

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