January 10, 2014 (JUBA) – The United States on Thursday called for "immediate cessation of hostilities" between South Sudan’s warring parties to end nearly a month of violence that has engulfed the country.
- US national security advisor Susan Rice (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
In a statement, the White House’s national security advisor, Susan Rice, said both rebel-leader Riek Machar and South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, have “the obligation […] to ensure that the lives of their people and future of their young country [are] not marred by violence.”
"Mr Machar, in particular, must commit to a cessation of hostilities without precondition", Rice stressed.
Violent clashes erupted in the South Sudan capital, Juba in mid-December and later spread to parts of Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states between the army and rebels loyal to Machar.
The escalation of the conflict prompted regional leaders from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to initiate direct talks between the two warring parties.
The rebels had, initially, demanded the immediate release of the nine politicians detained by government in Juba in connection with the violence as a precondition for talks to progress.
"His [Machar] continued insistence on the release of detainees as a pre-condition for cessation of hostilities is unacceptable and runs counter to the express will of the detainees who informed the IGAD mediators that their status should not impede reaching an agreement on cessation of hostilities", partly reads Rice’s statement extended to Sudan Tribune.
She, however, added that peace talks should continue, although the U.S "is disappointed that the detainees are still being held by government".