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A Look Back at 2014 in South Sudan in Tumult


The shadow of violence hung over South Sudan throughout 2014 as fighting that erupted in Juba in December 2013 spread around the country. Numerous peace deals were signed, but broken almost immediately, and by the end of the year, the violence was still flaring in parts of the young nation.

January

Opposition leader Riek Machar, who is accused of triggering country-wide violence by launching a failed coup against President Salva Kiir on Dec. 15, 2013, puts the blame on Mr. Kiir himself for the unrest gripping South Sudan.

Regional bloc IGAD brokers a cessation of hostilities deal for South Sudan. Both sides blame the other when the deal is violated within hours.


February

Riek Machar says the opposition is now an organized resistance movement, called the SPLM/SPLA.

March

New fighting breaks out at the Giada barracks in Juba. Information Minister Michael Makuei tries to explain away the incident, which was triggered by a pay dispute among SPLA soldiers.

Makuei says journalists are barred by law from broadcasting or publishing interviews with rebels, inside South Sudan.

April

Fighting rakes the Unity state capital, Bentiu, which falls to the rebels on April 17. Days later, the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) accuses the rebels of killing civilians in Bentiu after seizing control of the town.

Hours after Bentiu falls, armed men force their way into the UNMISS camp in Bor, Jonglei state, and open fire on thousands of South Sudanese who have sought shelter from the fighting. The government blames the Bor attack on U.N. peacekeepers, but later retracts the accusation.

May

South Sudanese Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin addresses a donor conference for South Sudan in Oslo, Norway, in May 2014.

South Sudanese Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin addresses a donor conference for South Sudan in Oslo, Norway, in May 2014.

​The international community gathers in Norway for a donor conference for South Sudan, where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by five months of fighting and aid organizations are warning of famine if nothing is done to help. Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin tells donor nations at the conference not to be too harsh on South Sudan.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield objects to Marial's analogy.

June

Several lawmakers and a senior diplomat step down to protest the conflict in South Sudan. Among them is South Sudan's former head of mission to Belgium and the EU, and permanent representative to the United Nations, Francis Nazario.

The army says the number of soldiers who are deserting is up, but SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer says desertion is no more than an administrative issue.

July

Civilians arrive at the UNMISS compound adjacent to Juba International Airport to take refuge, Dec. 17, 2013. (UNMISS)

Civilians arrive at the UNMISS compound adjacent to Juba International Airport to take refuge, Dec. 17, 2013. (UNMISS)

Tens of thousands of South Sudanese mark their country's third anniversary of independence inside UNMISS camps, where they sought shelter when the fighting broke out seven months ago.

August

At the end of a visit to South Sudan, the head of the U.N. Security Council says he has little hope that the conflict will be resolved quickly.

Susan Page leaves her post as the first U.S. ambassador to South Sudan.

September

Makuei says journalists who report the views of rebels are "agitators".

Media rights group the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) calls for the release of reporter George Livio, who has been held without charge or access to his family or a lawyer for nearly three weeks.

Justice Minister Paulino Waniwilla Unango tells the U.N. Human Rights Council that the conflict in South Sudan has no ethnic overtones.

Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, who is heading an African Union Commission of Inquiry investigating human rights abuses during the conflict in South Sudan, disagrees with Unango.

President Salva Kiir addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014.

President Salva Kiir addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014.

President Salva Kiir trumpets his government's unwavering effort to end the war in South Sudan, in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly in New York. He also repeats his assertion that the conflict was started by a failed coup, led by Machar.

October

In a major policy speech on South Sudan, U.S. Special Envoy Donald Booth blames weak leadership for the ongoing conflict, and calls for the U.N. to join the United States, European Union and Canada, and impose targeted sanctions on those responsible for the violence in the young country.


November

In the wake of new fighting in two South Sudanese states, the president of the Security Council expresses frustration at the unwillingness of the warring sides to abandon the military option and engage in peace talks.

Taban Deng Gai (L), lead negotiator for the South Sudanese armed opposition, exchanges a signed recommitment to stop hostilities with Nhial Deng, lead government negotiator, at an IGAD summit in Ethiopia on Nov. 9, 2014. Riek Machar (C) looks on.

Taban Deng Gai (L), lead negotiator for the South Sudanese armed opposition, exchanges a signed recommitment to stop hostilities with Nhial Deng, lead government negotiator, at an IGAD summit in Ethiopia on Nov. 9, 2014. Riek Machar (C) looks on.

The regional bloc mediating peace talks for South Sudan says the two sides in the conflict have once again agreed to abide by the January cessation of hostilities agreement. IGAD gives the two sides 15 days to firm up the details of a transitional government for South Sudan.

December

Information Minister Makuei plays down South Sudan's inclusion by Transparency International as one of the world's most corrupt nations.

Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin pleads during a visit to the United States for help, not punishment for South Sudan.

Former U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan, Susan Page.

Former U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan, Susan Page.

On the one-year anniversary of the outbreak of fighting in South Sudan, former U.S. Ambassador to Juba Susan Page says the young country began lurching toward conflict months before fighting broke out in December 2013.

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