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Push for peace


SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Push for peace

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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – South Sudan’s government today agreed to end hostilities, regional leaders said at the end of a crisis summit, raising hopes for a potential breakthrough in efforts to cease violence that has displaced more than 120 000 people in the world’s newest country.
East African leaders meeting in Kenya under a bloc called IGAD said in a statement today that they “welcomed the commitment by (South Sudan’s government) to an immediate cessation of hostilities”.
But former Vice President Riek Machar, president Salva Kiir’s political rival who is accused of orchestrating a failed coup that the government says sparked unrest across the oil-producing country, was not represented at the summit in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.
The leaders’ joint statement said Machar is urged to “make similar commitments” to end hostilities.
Machar, the alleged leader of renegade forces now in control of some parts of South Sudan, remains a fugitive wanted by the military. At least 10 of his political allies are in detention for their roles in the alleged coup plot.
Machar denies there was a coup attempt, and some officials with the ruling party insist violence broke out when presidential guards from Kiir’s majority Dinka tribe tried to disarm guards from the Nuer ethnic group of Machar, leading to wider military clashes along ethnic lines.
Machar, an influential politician who appears to command the loyalty of Nuer army officers, has criticized Kiir as a dictator and says he will contest the 2015 presidential election. Kiir had fired Machar as his deputy in July following a power struggle within the ruling party, stoking ethnic tensions in a country with a history of divided military loyalties.
IGAD said it opposes a violent change of government in South Sudan and urged Kiir and his rivals to start peace talks before the end of 2013.
 

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