South Sudan’s capital Juba was quiet but tense on Saturday after two days of gunbattles between rival troops that have raised fears for a fragile peace process.
At least five soldiers were killed on Thursday after gunbattles between soldiers loyal to Vice-President Riek Machar opened fire at a checkpoint manned by troops of President Salva Kiir, officials said.
Thursday and Friday’s gunfights were the first major outbreak of violence in Juba since Machar returned to the capital in April after his re-appointment as vice president.
What happened, none of us knows, this is an interruption to the good process which we have initiated.
Both Mr Kiir and Mr Machar were inside the palace when the gunfire broke out on Friday and called for calm following the soldiers’ deaths.
“We are meeting as we said to resolve whatever dispute that might have happened these days and so that we move forward not to be bogged down in the implementation of the agreement but it has happened. Now that it has happened there is nothing to be done about it but we have to continue finding a solution to it,” President Kiir said.
“What happened, none of us knows, this is an interruption to the good process which we have initiated. We want to continue this process of dialogue amongst ourselves, resolving issues so that the country comes out of the conflict,” Machar added.
Africa’s newest nation is emerging from two years of civil war that was precipitated by the sacking of Machar by Kiir as South Sudan’s vice president in December 2013.
Experts have warned that the five-year-old nation risks sliding back into conflict unless the two sides move more swiftly to implement the peace agreement.