S Sudan warring parties set for direct talks

2014-01-04 12:17
Members of the delegation representing the government of South Sudan board a plane at Juba International Airport headed for Addis Ababa. (Charles Atiki, AFP)

Members of the delegation representing the government of South Sudan board a plane at Juba International Airport headed for Addis Ababa. (Charles Atiki, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Addis Ababa - South Sudan's warring parties were set to begin direct talks on Saturday in a bid to end the conflict pushing the world's youngest nation towards civil war as fighting intensified for control of a key oil town.

On Friday the army moved on rebel-held Bor as government and rebel negotiating teams gathered at a luxury hotel in neighbouring Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.

"We have enough forces who will defeat the rebels within 24 hours," army spokesperson Philip Aguer said in South Sudan, with reports of intense battles involving tanks and artillery on the outskirts of Bor, a dusty oil town that has already exchanged hands three times since fighting began.

"These forces - the rebels - are now retreating back," Aguer insisted, quashing rebel claims that they had been marching on the capital Juba.

Rebel leader and former vice president Riek Machar told Britain's Telegraph newspaper that his forces would hold back from attacking Juba in the hope of achieving a "negotiated settlement".

Government forces should also stop trying to take territory under his control, Machar added.

The US embassy in South Sudan ordered a further pullout of staff because of the "deteriorating security situation" and said it had successfully evacuated 20 embassy personnel on Friday.

But Washington insisted it remains committed to ending the violence in South Sudan.

"Even as we draw down our personnel, we continue to be engaged in and strongly support regional and international efforts to bring the violence to an end," State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said.

About 45 troops remain stationed in Juba to provide additional security for the US embassy.

Thousands of people are feared to have been killed in the fighting since it erupted on 15 December, pitting army units loyal to President Salva Kiir against a loose alliance of ethnic militia forces and mutinous army commanders nominally headed by his rival, former vice president Machar.

The ongoing battles prompted the top UN aid official in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, to warn that soldiers and rebels must protect civilians and aid workers, or risk worsening a situation he described as critical.

In the calm of the hotel in Addis Ababa, rivals met special envoys from regional nations and Ethiopia's foreign minister confirmed that direct talks are expected to start on Saturday.

"We just finished the first round of proxy talks with both negotiating teams of South Sudan," the minister, Tedros Adhanom, said on his Twitter feed.

"Will proceed to direct talks tomorrow [Saturday]," he said.

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague, who earlier this week urged both sides to commit to an immediate ceasefire, said he had called Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to discuss the South Sudan talks and Uganda's "constructive role".

Civilians in dire need of aid

The fighting started when Kiir accused Machar of attempting a coup in the oil-rich but impoverished nation.

Machar denied this, in turn accusing the president of conducting a violent purge of opponents. He has so far refused to hold direct talks with Kiir.

Fighting has spread across the country, with the rebels seizing several areas in the oil-rich north.

Aid workers have stepped up warnings of a worsening crisis for civilians affected by the conflict in the landlocked country of almost 11 million people.

Britain's Hague said he had also discussed with Museveni the issue of access for humanitarian aid in the parts of South Sudan affected by the fighting.

The violence has forced around 200 000 people to flee their homes and "affected many hundreds of thousands of people indirectly", the UN's Lanzer said.

About 57 000 are seeking refuge with badly overstretched UN peacekeepers.

The UN peacekeeping force said this week that atrocities are continuing to occur across the country, which won independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of civil war.

One of the hardest hit areas is Bor, the capital of Jonglei state and situated just 200km north of Juba.

Tens of thousands have fled, many paddling in simple boats across the crocodile-infested White Nile river to escape the fighting.

The conflict has been marked by an upsurge of ethnic violence pitting members of Kiir's Dinka tribe against Machar's Nuer community, and the army has set up committees to probe the killing of "innocent people".

The United Nations has reported extra-judicial killings of civilians and captured soldiers and the discovery of large numbers of bodies in Juba as well as in the towns of Bor and Malakal.

Machar told AFP this week he was not yet ready to agree to an immediate ceasefire nor hold face-to-face talks with Kiir.

Kiir has described the war as "senseless" but has ruled out power-sharing with the rebels.

Read more on:    un  |  riek machar  |  salva kiir  |  car  |  central africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zille: Only DA can challenge ANC in F State

The DA is the only party that can challenge the ANC in the Free State, opposition party leader Helen Zille says.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Monday Sir Lowry's Pass - 13:45 PM
    Road name: N2 Westbound
    HEAVY TRAFFIC over Sir Lowrys Pass - expect delays
  • Monday Somerset West - 13:45 PM
    Road name: N2 Westbound
    EXPECT DELAYS due to high volumes
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9780

BlackBerry 6 Engage your world with BlackBerry 6 OS on the...

From R3049.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you by...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.