Peace talks between South Sudan’s warring parties aimed at ending weeks of ethnic bloodshed in the world’s youngest nation are imminent in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Both sides agreed to have peace talks in Ethiopia on Wednesday after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni warned Reik Machar, the former vice president who is currently leading anti-government forces, that he could face military action if he rejected the ceasefire offered by the President Salva Kiir’s government in Juba.
The former vice president agreed to negotiate with the government, though he rejected any face-to-face talks with President Kiir, stressing that he has sent his representatives to Ethiopia.
Machar also warned that his forces would keep fighting until a ceasefire deal is reached. His remarks came just hours after rebel forces recaptured the strategically important town of Bor.
The talks come as concerns are growing over fighting between the government forces and the rebels scuttling the process.
“I’m worried that the continued fighting in Bor might scupper the start of these talks,” Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom said on Tuesday.
The violence erupted in South Sudan on December 15 after President Kiir accused former vice president of attempting to stage a coup.
According to the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), over 1,000 people have lost their lives and more than 2,000 others have been displaced as a result of deadly unrest in the African country.
The mission has also voiced grave concerns over “mounting evidence of gross violations of international human rights,” that have occurred in the oil-rich South Sudan over the past two weeks.