Voice of America (Washington, DC)

South Sudan: Ethiopia - South Sudan Government, Rebels to Hold Talks

Ethiopia says South Sudan's government and rebel leader Riek Machar are sending delegations to Addis Ababa for peace talks.

The Ethiopian government announced the negotiations Tuesday, the day the East African bloc IGAD had set as a deadline for the two sides in South Sudan to hold face-to-face negotiations.

More than two weeks of violence in South Sudan continued Tuesday with fresh fighting in the key city of Bor, which government forces recaptured from rebels last week. The French news agency quoted a rebel spokesman as saying fighters backing Machar had re-taken control of Bor.

Tuesday's fighting followed renewed calls by the United Nations and African Union for an immediate end to the fighting.

Statements from the U.N. Security Council and the A.U.'s Peace and Security Council late Monday said dialogue should begin immediately between President Salva Kiir and Machar, his former vice president.

The African Union also urged Kiir's government to release detained political leaders, and threatened to impose sanctions on those who continue to incite violence.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni visited Kiir on Monday, and warned Machar to sign a cease-fire deal or face action from its neighbors.

The IGAD statement last week did not include a threat of force, but said the group would "consider taking further measures" if fighting continued.

The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders said Monday tens of thousands of South Sudanese have fled Bor since violence broke out there last week between government troops and the Machar-backed force - the so called "White Army."

White Army youths are known for the white powder they use to cover their skin as an insect repellant. Like Machar, they are ethnic Nuers while President Kiir and his loyalists are ethnic Dinka.

The tribal violence erupted earlier this month, when the president accused Machar of attempting a coup. The United Nations says the fighting has left more than 1,000 people dead and displaced tens of thousands.

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