Negotiations between South Sudan’s government and rebels have started again to find a solution for the country’s four-month-old civil war.
The two sides held the long-awaited talks, which had been delayed for several weeks, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Monday.
“The South Sudan peace talks that focus on a political dialogue for national reconciliation and healing resumed in Addis Ababa today following the arrival of all parties,” the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-country trading bloc based in Eastern Africa, said in a statement released on the same day.
Both the government and the rebels “shared concern over the recent escalation of the conflict and expressed their renewed commitment to the mediation process,” the statement added.
The political crisis in South Sudan began after President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, accused rebel leader Riek Machar, a Nuer, of attempting a coup in December 2013.
The conflict soon turned into an all-out war between the army and defectors, with the violence taking on an ethnic dimension that pitted the president’s tribe against Machar’s.
Thousands of people have so far been killed and more than one million displaced in the war. Over 78,000 civilians are presently forced to live in eight UN bases in the country, while many others have fled to neighboring states, particularly Uganda and Ethiopia.
South Sudan gained independence in July 2011 after its people overwhelmingly voted in a referendum for a split from the North.
The government in Juba is grappling with rampant corruption, unrest and conflict in the deeply impoverished but oil-rich nation left devastated by decades of war.