South Sudan: A Time for Decisive Action

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She is the world’s newest nation and a Christian one, which has been denied the privilege of enjoying its first peaceful Christmas.  How sad!

Fortunately, the world took time off from the joyous Christmas celebrations to respond swiftly to escalating violence that has claimed thousands of lives since 15 December, when clashes broke out at a meeting of the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM).    

In his Christmas Day message, United Nations  Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said "South Sudan is not alone." The UN Security Council boosted the existing UN force (Unmiss) of around 7,000 peacekeepers and police to about 14,000.

Meanwhile, leaders of two of South Sudan's neighbors, Kenya and Ethiopia, visited  Juba on Thursday in an attempt to halt fighting. 

President Salva Kiir held  talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Mr Kiir is involved in a power struggle with ex-deputy Riek Machar.

The fighting has exposed ethnic divisions between the two leaders.  Mr. Kiir is an ethnic Dinka, while Mr Machar represents the Nuer tribe.

President Kiir accused the former vice-president, who had been sacked in July, of plotting a coup, a charge Machar denies.

Clashes have since spread to half of South Sudan's 10 states.

Tens of thousands of people have fled to UN compounds across the oil-rich country.

The European Union also sent  an envoy, Alex Rondos, to Juba to push for a negotiated solution and so did the United States, European Union and China.  Both President Kiir  and Mr. Machar have said they are willing to discuss an end to the crisis.

But the former vice-president has said his detained political allies must first be freed, while Mr Kiir says there should be no preconditions.

With all of these high-powered nations involved, it is hoped that a peace deal will soon be arrived at and save this infant nation from sliding into civil war. 

 

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