News / Africa

South Sudan Says It's Preparing for Peace Talks

East African Leaders to Meet in Nairobi on South Sudani
December 27, 2013 5:14 AM
Leaders from a bloc of East African countries plan to meet in Nairobi Friday to discuss the ongoing crisis in South Sudan. The United Nations says inter-ethnic fighting there has left more than 1,000 people dead since clashes began nearly two weeks ago. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Watch related video from VOA's Mike Richman
Gabe Joselow
South Sudan’s government says a meeting with regional leaders has helped move forward plans for a dialogue between the president and his political rival to end the violence that has divided the country. The development comes as a humanitarian crisis continues to deepen in the young nation.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir met Thursday with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in capital city Juba to determine a way to end the ongoing crisis.

A spokesman for South Sudan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Mawien Makol Arik, said the leaders discussed efforts to bring Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar into a dialogue.

Kiir has accused Machar and his supporters of being behind an attempted coup on December 15 that has divided the military against itself in some areas and has stoked ethnic tensions. Machar denies the coup accusations, but he has called for the military to remove Kiir from power.

Riek Machar

-Born 1953 in Sudan
-Former rebel leader
-South Sudanese President Salva Kiir dismissed him from vice presidency in July
-Criticized current government for alleged corruption, tribalism and insecurity
-Announced plans to run for president in 2015
-Kiir accused him in December, 2013 of plotting a coup
Machar has said he is ready for talks if the government releases his political allies, who were arrested during the first days of the crisis.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Arik said the government will not agree to that request.

"The president is willing to go into dialogue with this faction, provided there’s no pre-condition, which would include the release of the political prisoners,” said Arik.

Fluid situation

No deadline has been set for the start of negotiations.

Arik said the mechanisms for the way forward will be discussed further on Friday in a meeting of representatives of the Horn of Africa regional grouping, IGAD, in Nairobi.

Meanwhile, South Sudan’s military says troops battled rebel soldiers Thursday in Unity state, a key oil-producing region where violence between factions of the armed forces has been severe.

U.N. officials have said more than 1,000 people may have been killed across the country since fighting began earlier this month. The United Nations says it hopes to begin receiving within the next 48 hours critical reinforcements of military hardware and personnel for its overstretched peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, which is on the verge of civil war.

Displaced persons

At a press conference Thursday, U.N. Special Representative for South Sudan Hilde Johnson welcomed any efforts to reconcile the warring factions, in the interest of civilians caught in the crossfire.

“Establishing a protective environment for civilians so that they feel safe and can return home with their families can solve this problem for all of us and that what we hope to see and that’s going to be a major task for us as a mission and for the government,” said Johnson.

Tens of thousands of civilians have taken refuge at U.N. bases across the country, putting a strain on resources.

The U.N. Security Council agreed Tuesday to send an additional 5,000 peacekeepers to the country.

  • Members of the South Sudan rebel delegation attend the opening ceremony of South Sudan's peace negotiations, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 4, 2014.
  • Taban Deng Gai, left, head of the rebel delegation and South Sudan's leader of the government delegation, Nhial Deng Nhial, attend the opening ceremony of South Sudan's peace negotiations, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 4, 2014.
  • Unidentified members of the delegation from the South Sudan government and western observers meet at the Sheraton Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 4, 2014.
  • A displaced mother and her baby, one of the few to have a mosquito net, wake up at a refugee camp, Awerial, South Sudan, Jan. 2, 2014.
  • A young displaced girl carries a bucket of water back to her makeshift shelter at a United Nations compound. The compound has become home to thousands of people displaced by the recent fighting, Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 31, 2013.
  • Displaced people gather inside a mosquito net tent as they flee from the fighting between the South Sudanese army and rebels in Bor town, in Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 30, 2013.
  • A displaced woman hangs up laundry on the plastic sheeting wall of a latrine at a United Nations compound, Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 31, 2013.
  • Yared, 2, is held by his mother, Madhn, who fled from the town of Bor a few days ago. She receives medicine for her child at a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) medical tent, at a United Nations compound, Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 31, 2013.
  • A young displaced boy rests on the wheel arch of a water truck while others fill containers from it, at a United Nations compound, Juba, South Africa, Dec. 31, 2013.
  • A family makes tea outside their makeshift shelter at a United Nations compound, Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 31, 2013.
  • A general view of a camp for displaced people set up in a United Nations compound in Bor, South Sudan, Dec. 25, 2013.
  • South Sudan army soldiers hold their weapons as they ride on a truck in Bor, Dec. 25, 2013.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs