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South Sudan leaders order ceasefire amid fears of fresh civil war

South Sudan leaders order ceasefire amid fears of fresh civil war

South Sudan

The major political players in South Sudan, President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar, have ordered a ceasefire on the part of their respective forces. The call follows the resumption of hostilities between the forces on the eve of the country’s fifth independence anniversary.

Kiir was the first to call for the ceasefire by SPLA forces in the capital Juba. According to Reuters, Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said Kiir and Machar had spoken by phone on Monday, a day which saw tanks and helicopters involved in some of the fiercest clashes yet.

“All the commanders of (Kiir’s) forces are directed to cease any hostility and abide by the order and control their forces,” Ateny told Reuters. “President Salva Kiir is determined to carry on his partnership with Riek Machar,” he added.

All the commanders of (Kiir's) forces are directed to cease any hostility and abide by the order and control their forces.

Machar followed the ceasefire call of Kiir two hours later in an interview with independent Eye Radio. ‘‘The president declared a unilateral ceasefire, I want to reciprocate the declaration of unilateral ceasefire,’‘ he said.

Monday had witnessed some of the heaviest fighting between the sides, after clashes erupted on Thursday.

South Sudan, Africa’s youngest nation descended into civil war in 2013 after Machar was fired from President Kiir’s government. The ensuing years led to heavy fighting which battered the country’s economy, killed thousands and displaced millions.

The latest fighting in the capital has led to people fleeing to take refuge in United Nations bases, while others are already making attempts to cross to the nearest border for fear that a civil war could break out.

Machar returned to Juba in April this year to take up a new position as first vice president in a peace deal that was agreed in August 2015.

He subsequently joined a transitional government of national unity tasked to stabilize the country at the economic and security levels; while restoring trust among the citizens in order to heal wounds and reconcile the people.