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Salva Kiir Mayardit
Government and rebels in South Sudan have signed a ceasefire agreement after talks in Ethiopia.
Under the deal, signed in a hotel in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, the fighting is due to come to an end within 24 hours.
In the past week, government forces have recaptured the two main cities under rebel control.
More than 500,000 people have been forced from their homes during the month-long conflict.
“These two agreements are the ingredients to create an environment for achieving a total peace in my country,” said Taban Deng, head of the rebel delegation, AFP reports.
However, the South Sudanese government has expressed skepticism over whether the opposition will be able to control all the militias involved in fighting.
The talks have now been adjourned and are due to continue on February 7.
What started out as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his former deputy Riek Machar on December 15 escalated into full-scale conflict, with reports of ethnic killings.
South Sudan’s government and rebels have signed a ceasefire agreement after talks in Ethiopia
A ceremony to mark the signing of the agreement on the “cessation of hostilities and the question of the detainees” took place at the hotel where the talks were hosted.
The agreement is thought to address the issue of 11 detainees whom the rebels wanted freed, and whose fate had previously left the talks deadlocked.
The detainees – allies of Riek Machar and prominent political figures from a faction of the governing SPLM party – were taken into custody when Salva Kiir first made the allegations of an attempted coup – which Machar denies.
The South Sudanese government had earlier said on its Twitter feed that it envisaged an amnesty for the detainees but only after their cases had been heard in court.
Another key rebel demand was for Ugandan troops fighting alongside the government forces to be withdrawn.
Last week, the UN human rights chief said both government soldiers and rebels had committed atrocities in South Sudan, one of the world’s poorest countries.
More than 70,000 civilians are seeking shelter at UN bases across South Sudan and the UN estimates that considerably more than 1,000 have been killed.
Following the outbreak of hostilities, it was agreed to boost the UN force and an extra 5,500 peacekeepers are being deployed to South Sudan, to bring its strength up to 12,500.
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Kenya is holding a meeting of East Africa’s leaders on growing violence in South Sudan, where more than 1,000 people are believed to have died.
The talks come a day after South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit met the Kenyan president and Ethiopian PM.
Meanwhile, the UN said the first peacekeeping reinforcements were expected to arrive in 48 hours.
South Sudan violence erupted 12 days ago between forces loyal to Salva Kiir and those backing his ex-deputy Riek Machar.
Kenya talks come a day after South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit met the Kenyan president and Ethiopian PM in Juba
The fighting has forced more than 100,000 to flee their homes, with about 60,000 seeking refuge at UN compounds across the country, UN officials say.
East African regional leaders from the eight-member bloc, known as IGAD, are meeting in Kenya’s capital Nairobi to follow up on issues raised during Thursday’s talks with President Salva Kiir in South Sudan’s capital Juba.
Salva Kiir met Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn. The talks were described by Ethiopia as “very constructive and very candid”.
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New evidence is emerging of alleged ethnic killings committed during more than a week of fighting in South Sudan.
The violence follows a power struggle between President Salva Kiir Mayardit, a Dinka, and his Nuer ex-deputy Riek Machar.
A reporter in the capital, Juba, quoted witnesses as saying more than 200 people, mostly from the Nuer ethnic group, were shot by security forces.
Another man in Juba said gunmen from the majority Dinka ethnic group were shooting people in Nuer areas.
The fighting first erupted in Juba last week and has spread throughout South Sudan, with rebels supporting Riek Machar seizing the major towns of Bor and Bentiu, north of the capital.
Bentiu is the capital of the oil-producing Unity State.
New evidence is emerging of alleged ethnic killings committed during more than a week of fighting in South Sudan
Salva Kiir has accused Riek Machar, who he sacked in July, of plotting a coup. Riek Machar denies he is trying to seize power, while the government has denied it is behind any ethnic violence.
The fear is that the personal rivalry between the former allies will spark a full-scale conflict between the Nuer and Dinka groups.
The official death toll stands at 500, but aid agencies say the true figure is likely to be much higher.
There has also been fighting in Upper Nile State but few details have emerged.
Another 81,000 people have been displaced, the UN’s humanitarian agency says, with about half seeking shelter at UN bases.
President Salva Kiir has said he is willing to hold talks with Riek Machar – and that a delegation of East African foreign ministers had offered to mediate – but that his former deputy would have to come to the table without any conditions.
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South Sudan’s Vice-President Riek Machar has said rebel troops have captured the key oil-producing state of Unity and control much of the country.
Riek Machar also confirmed that the forces fighting the government were under his command.
South Sudan has been in turmoil since President Salva Kiir Mayardit accused Riek Machar a week ago of attempting a coup.
At least 500 people have been killed since the fighting began with the government struggling to keep control of the capital, Juba.
Riek Machar’s comments came as four US service personnel involved in evacuating US citizens were wounded when their aircraft were shot at in Bor, the capital of eastern Jonglei state.
World Christian leaders have called for a ceasefire in South Sudan, where the population is mainly animist or Christian.
South Sudan’s rebel troops have captured the key oil-producing state of Unity and control much of the country
The Vatican and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, issued a joint statement calling for the country’s weak and poor to be “spared the trauma of conflict”.
“Let us not yield to fratricidal tendencies in the name of our ethnic differences (which is what God created us to be),” they said.
Riek Machar, whose claim to control Unity could not be independently verified, said that a senior military commander, General James Koang, had gone over to the rebels earlier in the week.
However, government forces say James Koang defected alone and did not take any troops with him.
Unity, a state on the border with Sudan, produces much of South Sudan’s oil, which accounts for more than 95% of the country’s economy.
Riek Machar added that he was prepared to negotiate with the government if politicians arrested this week were released and transferred to a neutral country such as Ethiopia.
Salva Kiir also agreed to negotiations after meeting African mediators on Friday.
But government troops are currently trying to retake Bor, in one of the most volatile regions in the country.
Troops backed by helicopter gunships were advancing on the town, army spokesman Philip Aguer told AFP news agency.
A spokesman for UN peacekeepers Unmiss in Bor said considerable numbers of people had arrived over the past 24 hours from surrounding areas seeking their protection.
Rebels in South Sudan have taken over the key town of Bor, the military has said, as fighting continues after Sunday’s reported coup attempt.
“Our soldiers have lost control of Bor to the force of Riek Machar,” said army spokesman Philip Aguer.
President Salva Kiir Mayardit has accused Riek Machar, the former vice-president, of plotting a coup – a claim he denies.
The unrest, which began in the capital Juba, has killed some 500 people and sparked fears of widespread conflict.
Since independence, several rebel groups have taken up arms and one of these is said to have been involved in the capture of Bor.
The UN estimates 20,000 people have taken refuge in UN compounds in South Sudan’s capital
The UN has expressed concern about a possible civil war between the country’s two main ethnic groups, the Dinka of Salva Kiir and the Nuer of Riek Machar.
The organization has called for political dialogue to end the crisis, and the Ugandan government says its president has been asked by the UN to mediate between the two sides.
The UN peacekeeping mission says it is sheltering civilians in five state capitals, including Juba, Bor and Bentiu, the main town of the oil-producing state of Unity.
The US and The UK have both sent planes to airlift their nationals out of the country, and a US defense official described the situation as “getting ugly”.
Bor is the capital of Jonglei state, and even before the current unrest, it was seen as one of the most volatile areas of South Sudan.
Overnight there were reports of gun battles in the town, as renegade officers fought with troops still loyal to President Salva Kiir.
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Up to 500 people are believed to have died in clashes between rival South Sudan army factions, the UN says, quoting unconfirmed reports.
UN diplomats said they had been told by sources in the capital, Juba, that the death toll was between 400 and 500.
South Sudan has seen two days of clashes following a reported coup attempt against President Salva Kiir Mayardit.
Fugitive opposition leader Riek Machar has denied government accusations that he tried to seize power.
“What took place in Juba was a misunderstanding between presidential guards within their division, it was not a coup attempt,” he told the Sudan Tribune, a Paris-based news website, in an interview published on Wednesday.
Riek Machar, a former South-Sudanese vice-president who fell out with President Salva Kiir in July, said he had no knowledge of or connection with any coup attempt.
President Salva Kiir has said a group of soldiers supporting Riek Machar had tried to take power by force on Sunday night, but were defeated.
Amid continuing clashes on Monday and Tuesday, the government said 10 senior political figures, including a former finance minister, had been arrested.
Details of the fighting have been sketchy, but a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York on Tuesday was told that the clashes were “apparently largely along ethnic lines”.
Up to 500 people are believed to have died in clashes between rival South Sudan army factions
French UN ambassador Gerard Araud, who holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council, said up to 20,000 people had taken refuge in the UN mission in Juba.
He said the council had received only “patchy information” in a briefing given by UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous.
The governor of Unity State, Simon Kun Pouch, was quoted on the government website as saying that the conflict had nothing to do with tribes.
“There are people out there saying what has happened is between the Dinka and the Nuer tribesmen. We the leaders of this country would want to state here that this is not true,” he said.
“If you see the people going with Dr. Riek [Machar], some are Dinkas, some are Chol, Nuer and other tribes,” he added.
The US has ordered all its non-emergency embassy staff to leave the country immediately.
President Salva Kiir said the clashes began when uniformed personnel opened fire at a meeting of the governing party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
Fighting then continued into Monday when the government said it was back in full control.
However, fresh gunfire erupted on Tuesday near the presidential palace and many other areas of Juba.
Government officials say they are hunting for Riek Machar, who is believed to be in hiding.
Riek Machar – who leads a dissident faction within the SPLM – was thought to have escaped with some troops.
On Tuesday, the government said former Finance Minister Kosti Manibe, former Justice Minister John Luk Jok and former Interior Minister Gier Chuang Aluong were among the 10 people arrested.
Many were members of the cabinet that was sacked in its entirety in July.
South Sudan has struggled to achieve a stable government since becoming independent from Sudan in 2011.
The independence referendum was intended to end a decade-long conflict, led by the SPLM, against the north.
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South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit has announced that an attempted coup by soldiers loyal to his former deputy Riek Machar has been put down.
Salva Kiir said the government was in full control of the capital, Juba, after a night of heavy fighting between soldiers in the presidential guard.
A night time curfew has been put in place and a number of arrests have reportedly been made.
Several people were reported injured and hundreds have fled to a US base.
Hilde Johnson, the UN’s special representative in South Sudan, said she was “deeply concerned” and urged “all parties in the fighting to cease hostilities immediately and exercise restraint”.
“I have been in touch regularly with the key leaders, including at the highest levels to call for calm,” she said.
The fighting in Juba broke out overnight, and intensified in the early morning, with reports of continuous gunfire and several explosions.
The city’s airport has been closed and the state TV channel SSTV went off air for several hours.
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit has announced that an attempted coup by soldiers loyal to his former deputy Riek Machar has been put down
Shortly after it came back on air, SSTV broadcast an address from Salva Kiir, wearing military uniform rather than his usual civilian clothing and flanked by government officials.
He said the violence “was an attempted coup”, but that the government was now in full control and the attackers were being chased down.
Salva Kiir said the fighting began when unidentified uniformed personnel opened fire at a meeting of SPLM, followed by an attack on army headquarters near the university carried out “by a group of soldiers allied to the former vice-president Dr. Riek Machar and his group”.
“I will not allow or tolerate such incidents once again in our new nation. I strongly condemn these criminal actions in the strongest terms possible,” the president said, vowing those responsible would be have to stand “before the appropriate law institution”.
The ruling party, former rebel force the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), would never allow power to be transferred by force, he said.
He announced a curfew would be in place every night between 18:00 and 06:00, beginning on Monday.
“Rest assured that the government is doing all it can to make sure that citizens are secured and safe.”
Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told the Associated Press that some soldiers had tried to raid the weapons store at the main military based in the capital, but were repulsed.
He said some politician had since been arrested.
Riek Machar has not commented and his whereabouts are unclear. But his spokesman said he was safe and denied reports he had been arrested.
South Sudan – the world’s youngest country and one of the least developed – has struggled to achieve a stable government since becoming independent from Sudan in 2011. The independence referendum was intended to end a decades-long conflict, led by the SPLM, against the north.
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