South Sudan president asks to revive talks

Salva Kiir asks rebel leader to resume peace talks as the country marks third birthday amid violence.

    South Sudan president asks to revive talks
    The president called on Riek Machar (pictured) to return to negotiations [AFP]

    South Sudan's president has called on rebels to resume peace talks as the country marked its third birthday with celebrations overshadowed by fighting that has killed thousands and brought it to the verge of famine.

    South Sudan has been in political turmoil since Salva Kiir, the president, sacked his former deputy Riek Machar last year, triggering an ethnic conflict in a country which only won independence from Sudan in 2011.

    "Put down your guns and come home," Kiir said in the capital Juba during a ceremony on Wednesday marking the anniversary of independence.

    "I still renew my call upon him [Machar] to accept the logic of peaceful resolution to the conflict so that we resolve this issue."

    Clashes erupted in Juba in December pitting the government forces of Kiir against supporters of Machar. The conflict has reopened deep ethnic tensions in the world's youngest country which only won independence from Sudan in 2011.

    Peace talks have stalled after the two sides met in Addis Ababa in May and agreed on a ceasefire.

    The mood in Juba on Wednesday was markedly more muted than in 2011 when revellers draped in South Sudan flags thronged the streets and danced the night away.

    Three years on, a much smaller and reticent crowd listened as the president gave an independence day address. An ongoing curfew enforced by the army every day at 6pm local time was expected to further curtail any celebrations.

    More than 10,000 people have been killed since the clashes broke out in Juba in December and violence spread to oil-producing regions, slashing output by a third and crippling South Sudan's oil-dependent economy.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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