South Sudan: President Kiir Grants Pardon to Bitter Rival, All Rebels

President Salva Kiir (R) and Riek Machar (L).

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has granted a blanket amnesty to rival Riek Machar and other rebels.

The decree, announced Thursday on South Sudan's state-run radio and television, took effect Wednesday, just three days after Kiir and Machar signed a power-sharing deal in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum aimed at ending a five-year civil war.

South Sudan gained independence from neighboring Sudan in 2011, but in late 2013 erupted into violence over a power struggle between Kiir and Machar, the vice president. The fighting has left tens of thousands of South Sudanese dead and forced millions of the country's citizens to flee their homes.

The new pact will see Machar return from exile in South Africa as the first of five vice presidents under a transitional government of national unity.

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