News / Africa

    South Sudan Rebels Reject Plan to Unblock Peace Talks

    Head of the rebel delegation General Taban Deng Gai, addresses journalists during South Sudan's negotiations in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 8, 2014.
    Head of the rebel delegation General Taban Deng Gai, addresses journalists during South Sudan's negotiations in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 8, 2014.
    Reuters
    South Sudanese rebels turned down on Wednesday a government plan to end a dispute over detainees and unblock peace talks aimed at halting violence that has killed at least 1,000 people in the world's youngest state.

    Three weeks of fighting, often along ethnic faultlines, has pitted President Salva Kiir's SPLA government forces against the rebels loyal to former vice president Riek Machar and brought the oil exporting nation close to civil war.

    Both sides met face-to-face for a first time on Tuesday in Addis Ababa in a bid to agree a ceasefire but faced new delays after Kiir refused a rebel demand to release 11 detainees, who were arrested last year over an alleged coup plot.

    On Wednesday, the government proposed to shift the peace talks to the United Nations compound in Juba, enabling the 11 detainees to attend the negotiations during the day and return to custody in the evening.

    "They seem to have rejected that,'' South Sudan's  presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said.

    Taban Deng Gai, the head of the opposition delegation at the Addis Ababa talks, said Juba was not a good venue. "I don't think that will be accepted from this side because Juba is a big prison,'' he said.

    The fighting is the worst in South Sudan since it won independence from Sudan in 2011 in a peace deal that ended one of Africa's longest civil wars. It has also displaced over 200,000 people and cut oil exports.

    Both sides on Wednesday reported fighting around Bor, north of Juba.

    Garang boys
           
    Peter Biar Ajak, Executive Director of the Juba-based Center for Strategic Analyses and Research, said most of the 11 detainees were not outright Machar supporters, but part of a group made up of ex-comrades of the late Sudanese liberation hero John Garang, known as the "Garang Boys''.

    "You are not going to have a lasting solution without this group being involved,'' Ajak told Reuters by phone, adding that Machar would need the backing of the group to have any hope of gaining wide support outside his own Nuer ethnic group.

    The rebels had initially demanded the release of the detainees before the talks, but have since agreed to negotiate a ceasefire and the status of the detainees.\

    "It is a decision that we will have to make as a group,''  Mabior said when asked whether Machar's delegation would withdraw from the talks if the detainees were not freed.

    Both sides were due to discuss their positions on Wednesday, but this did not take place, because the delegates were awaiting the return From Juba of envoys of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional grouping of east African nations that initiated the talks.

    The envoys had travelled to Juba where they tried in vain to persuade Kiir to free the detainees, and arrived back in Addis on Wednesday evening.

    Fighting near Bor

    Lul Ruai Koang, military spokesman for the opposition, told journalists in Addis that rebel forces had attacked government troops near the town of Bor, near the capital.

    Koang said his troops were near Juba and would await a command from the rebels' political leaders to attack the town if the peace talks break down. "We are ready, and once we are told what to do we'll get into action,'' he said.

    In Juba, the government's military spokesman Philip Aguer said there had been fighting around Bor, and elsewhere, including the Upper Nile state where some of the country's oil fields are located.

    Politician David Yau Yau, who has in the past led a rebellion against South Sudan's army in the vast Jonglei state had joined the government troops, Aguer said. Yau Yau was not immediately available to comment.

    The lack of progress in the peace talks has unnerved foreign powers, who worry that South Sudan could spiral into full-blown civil war.

    China, the biggest investor in South Sudan's oil industry through state-owned Chinese oil giants National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and Sinopec, called on Monday for an immediate ceasefire. The unrest has forced the government to cut oil production by about a fifth.

    All of landlocked South Sudan's oil is piped through its northern neighbor, providing vital hard currency in transit fees for Khartoum. Oil major BP estimates that South Sudan holds sub-Saharan Africa's third-largest reserves.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    January 09, 2014 5:21 PM
    There's no peace if kirr not step down cowboy

    by: Stephen Tor Gany from: Juba
    January 08, 2014 11:12 PM
    We really need a peaceful solution for this situation, we had been in UNMISS now for the last three weeks, I urge all the leaders from both sides to accept immediately the conditions given from each party.

    by: Ulo Kenneth from: Imo state Nigeria
    January 08, 2014 8:06 PM
    i wonder what benefit people derive by ingaging in war. In every war, number of lives are lost, property distroyed & every afare scatered & unorganised in mater that should have resolved peacefully. I call on all the parties involved to follow the line of peace. That's no alternative to peace.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora