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S Sudan government ‘agrees to truce’

S Sudan

The government of South Sudan has agreed to an immediate end to fighting with rebels, East African leaders meeting in Nairobi say.

The leaders said they “welcomed the commitment by the government of the Republic of South Sudan to an immediate cessation of hostilities”.

They called on rebel leader Riek Machar to “make similar commitments”.

More than 1,000 people are said to have died in recent fighting in the world’s newest state.

At least 100,000 people have fled their homes, with about 60,000 seeking refuge at UN compounds across the country, according to the UN, which is sending extra peacekeepers.

Anne Soy reports from Juba: ”Many here are too frightened to venture out of the UN camp”

President Salva Kiir is engaged in a deadly power struggle with Mr Machar, his former vice-president. Members of Mr Kiir’s Dinka ethnic group and Mr Machar’s Nuer community have both been targeted in the violence.

The violence erupted after President Kiir accused his former vice-president, who was sacked in July, of plotting a coup. The fighting quickly spread to half of Sudan’s 10 states.

East African regional leaders, who make up an eight-member bloc known as Igad, held talks in the Kenyan capital Nairobi a day after the leaders of Kenya and Ethiopia met Mr Kiir in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.

They have said they will not accept a violent overthrow of the government in South Sudan.

Oil town battle

President Kiir did not attend the talks in Nairobi nor, apparently, did any representative of Mr Machar.

Violence has continued through the week with conflicting reports on Friday about the situation in Malakal, capital of oil-producing Upper Nile State.

Army spokesman Philip Aguer told Reuters news agency in Juba that the rebels in Malakal had been defeated. “[Government forces] are 100% in control of Malakal town and are pursuing the forces of the coup,” he said.

An aerial view of Malakal, South Sudan (file image)This aerial view of Malakal was photographed in 2009

But a rebel spokesman in Unity State, Moses Ruai Lat, told AFP “the whole of Malakal” was now in the hands of Machar loyalists. “All those forces who are loyal to the president have been cleared and the former governor of Upper Nile, Simon Kun Poch, is on the run,” he said.

The fighting is affecting oil production, which accounts for 98% of government revenue.

Calling for an immediate halt to the fighting, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said two peace envoys should be appointed to talk to both sides.

He suggested that one of these could be Gen Lazaro Sumbeiywo, who helped broker the 2005 Sudan peace deal which led to the South’s independence in 2011.

China, which buys most of South Sudan’s oil, has also sent an envoy to the region to try to negotiate an end to the fighting.

The UN Security Council has voted to almost double the number of UN peacekeepers to 12,500.

Map of South Sudan highlight five of the central states affected by violenceFighting erupted in the South Sudan capital, Juba, in mid-December. It followed a power struggle between President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, and his Nuer ex-deputy Riek Machar. The fear is that the rivalry will spark a widespread ethnic conflict. According to OCHA, 81,000 people have been forced from their homes.

Source:BBC

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