South Sudan Leaders Order Ceasefire
South Sudan’s President Slava Kiir and Vice-President Riek Machar have ordered a ceasefire between their rival forces.
Clashes broke out between troops loyal to each leader on Thursday as the former war enemies struggle to establish peace in the country. Some reports estimate more than 300 people have been killed clashes since late last week. However, it could be some time before any accurate figures are released.
President Salva Kiir unilaterally declared a ceasefire yesterday, following intense fighting on Sunday. Around two hours later Vice-President Riek Machar ordered troops loyal to him to stop fighting.
“I inform all troops who have been fighting and have been defending themselves that they should observe the ceasefire and stay in position,” he said on Eye Radio Juba.
It’s not yet clear whether calls for a ceasefire have brought an end to the fighting. Reports of gunfire in the capital continued to emerge after President Kiir gave his order. The question of how much control the two leaders have over their armed forces still hangs over the country’s civil conflict.
Kiir and Machar united
Members of Riek Machar’s opposition group continuously accuse President Kiir of not being serious about the country’s peace process. However, a spokesman for Kiir moved to assure the nation that their president is determined to keep working with Machar.
“President Salva Kiir is determined to carry on his partnership with Riek Machar,” presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told Reuters.
Sadly, their job now looks far more difficult after these latest clashes. The international community has become increasingly impatient with a lack of progress in South Sudan’s peace process. Losing Juba to violence once again is a setback the country can’t afford as fears grow that civil war could return to South Sudan.