South Sudan rivals under international pressure to end violence
JUBA (AFP) - International pressure bore down on Saturday, Dec 28, 2013, on the two sides in South Sudan's bloody violence to open peace talks to keep the young nation from sliding into civil war.
East African and Horn of Africa peace brokers gave until December 31 for President Salva Kiir and de facto rebel leader Riek Machar, whom Mr Kiir sacked as vice-president in July, to start face-to-face talks and stop two weeks of fighting that is thought to have left thousands dead.
"We, the government, are ready to meet even before that," South Sudan's Vice-President James Wani Igga told reporters. "It's now up to Machar to accept the ceasefire." The government on Saturday reiterated accusations that Mr Machar was mobilising thousands of youths to attack its interests.
"Dr Riek mobilises his... youths, up to 25,000... and wants to use them to attack the government" in the eastern state of Jonglei, where rebels said to support Mr Machar briefly captured the regional capital Bor earlier this month, government spokesman Michael Makuei told Agence France-Presse.