Uneasy truce in South Sudan

Archbishop Deng returns to Juba to begin work of reconciliation

An uneasy truce has emerged in the South Sudan capital of Juba following five days of fighting between President Salva Kiir’s SPLA forces and those of his rival Vice-President Riek Machar’s SPLM-IO troops. While condemning the latest outbreak of violence, church leaders tell Anglican Ink the country has not not witnessed a return to the two years of mass ethnic killing that marked the 2013 civil war between Kiir’s Dinka followers and Machar’s Nuer people.

The fighting appears to have been contained to Juba, so far, and “we have seen some restraint from the leaders”, said Casie Copeland of the International Crisis Group. However, the Primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan, the Most Rev. Daniel Deng Bul, Archbishop of Juba said he was discouraged. Reports from the South Sudan capital from NGOs state at least 270 people have been killed and 36,000 driven from their homes in the latest round of fighting.

Speaking to the Daily Vision newspaper on his return to Juba from the United States Archbishop Deng said: “I was shocked by what happened, I did not expect us to go back to square one. The events of 2013 should have made us learn from the past.”

Archbishop Deng had been on a three week tour of the US, visiting mission supporters from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America, as well as paying a courtesy call on ACNA primate, the Most Rev. Foley Beach. However, he cut his trip short upon hearing of the outbreak of fighting. He was only able to return to Juba, however, after the government reopened the airport. The archbishop said that once he had been briefed, he would gather the country’s religious leaders to make a joint appeal for reconciliation between the warring tribes.

However, Machar is currently in hiding, while press reports from Juba report that some generals loyal to Kiir are calling for the army to end the rebellion by killing Machar and destroying his army.  They are calling upon Kirr to repudiate the 2015 power sharing agreement negotiated between Kirr and Machar by the African Union in Addis Ababa.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on the Security Council to approve more troops to bolster the 12,000 strong UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). However, President Kiir has said he would not permit additional foreign troops in South Sudan.

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