South Sudan Talks Open In Ethiopia

Direct talks on ending the conflict in South Sudan have officially opened in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Members of the delegation opposed to South Sudan's government attend talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to try and broker a ceasefire between South Sudan's President Salva Kiir-led government forces and rebels allied to deposed vice-president, Riak Machar. (AFP/Jacey FORTIN)
Members of the delegation opposed to South Sudan’s government attend talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to try and broker a ceasefire between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir-led government forces and rebels allied to deposed vice-president, Riak Machar. (AFP/Jacey FORTIN)

Though the talks started, Heavy gun fire was reported in the government district of Juba on Saturday evening.

The negotiations are focusing on bringing about a ceasefire and the release of political prisoners.

The talks, led by teams representing the warring parties, are expected to get under way in earnest on Sunday.

Rebels supporting sacked Deputy President Riek Machar are involved in fierce fighting with the forces of President Salva Kiir.

At least 1,000 people have been killed since the conflict began on 15 December.

More than 180,000 people have been displaced.

Aid workers say many of them are living without shelter, clean water or sanitation.

Earlier fears that the talks in Ethiopia had been postponed indefinitely proved unfounded with the unexpected ceremonial opening at a hotel in Addis Ababa.

In a tweet on Saturday evening, the Ethiopian foreign ministry quoted the special envoy to South Sudan as saying “both the government & opposition of South Sudan have committed to resolve their political differences through political dialogue”.

No timeline has been set, but mediators have asked the opposing parties to find quick solutions.

Source: BBC & AFP

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