The South Sudanese government hopes the arrival of rebel leader and vice-president Riek Machar in the capital Juba will bring an end to the ongoing civil war, an official has told IBTimes UK. Sabit A Alley, South Sudanese ambassador to the UK, said Machar's return will allow the implementation of a peace process signed by warring sides last August.
Machar left Juba when civil war erupted in 2013. His delayed arrival and reinstatement as vice-president are part of a series of measures aimed at ending the conflict that has caused the death of thousands.
"Machar's return will now set the peace process in motion. It is now possible to proceed with the formation of the transitional government of national unity. We also hope that his return will bring to an end the two-year-old conflict in the country," Alley said.
"The process of reconciliation of communities in the country will be initiated. It is also hoped that the international community will now provide the country with the necessary support, not only in the areas of humanitarian assistance but also in the areas of socio-economic development in general. Peace and stability in the country will give the people of South Sudan opportunity to begin re-building their lives."
Alley's comments came as the office of President Salva Kiir announced the interim government could be formed on 28 April, Eye Radio reported.
Meanwhile, the US has pledged an additional $86m (£59m; €75m) in humanitarian assistance to help those displaced by the conflict. However, the American government also warned it could impose sanctions or an arm embargo if the warring sides fail to create the unity government, seen as an essential ingredient to pave the way towards peace.
South Sudan's descent into civil war
South Sudan descended into civil war in 2013 when Kiir, from the Dinka ethnic group, fired Machar, from the Nuer group, and his cabinet. The dismissal followed Kiir's decision to replace members of the army and government amid rumours of a coup plot by Machar.
Ethnic-related violence then spread, with militia groups carrying out attacks in villages and areas known to be inhabited by either Dinka or Nuer tribes.
More than 10,000 civilians have so far been killed in the conflict, amid allegations of crimes against humanity committed by both sides, including extra-judicial killings, abductions, rape, torture and use of child soldiers. At least two million people have also been displaced.
Although the warring factions have signed at least seven peace deals, the violence has continued, and a January report from the African Union blamed both leaders for the ongoing unrest.