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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs