US calls for immediate end to S Sudan conflict

The United States urged an immediate end to violence in South Sudan on Sunday after fresh clashes left scores dead in the capital, threatening the young nation’s shaky peace deal.
The battles are the first between the army and ex-rebels in Juba since rebel leader Riek Machar returned in April to take up the post of vice president under wartime enemy President Salva Kiir, following the three-year conflict that has killed thousands and sparked a humanitarian crisis.
The US State Department said it was ordering all non-essential personnel out of the country, and condemned reports that civilian sites had been attacked in the latest bout of violence, which left at least 150 soldiers dead on both sides. Local media gave a higher toll of around 270.
Washington pressed “both leaders and their political allies and commanders to immediately restrain their forces from further fighting, return them to barracks and prevent additional violence and bloodshed,” State Department spokesperson John Kirby said in a statement.
“The United States is determined to ensure appropriate measures are taken to hold accountable those responsible for continuing fighting and violations of international humanitarian law, including attacks on the UN Mission in South Sudan [UNMISS] and targeting of civilians.”
The violence comes a day after the world’s youngest country marked its fifth anniversary of independence, and is a fresh blow to the peace deal that has failed to end the civil war that broke out in December 2013 when Kiir accused his sacked deputy Machar of plotting a coup.
The latest clashes began on Friday in Juba and continued over the weekend. City residents hunkered down or began fleeing their homes as the UN reported the use of mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and “heavy ground assault weaponry”. Helicopter gunships and tanks were also deployed.
Washington’s warning came as the United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting, urging both sides to end fighting and calling for more peacekeepers.
The council’s 15 member countries demanded Kiir and Machar “genuinely commit themselves to the full and immediate implementation of the peace agreement, including the permanent ceasefire and redeployment of military forces from Juba”.

Check Also

Russia has again tried to change Europe’s borders by force. What’s next?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed treaties to begin the formal (and illegal) annexation of …