Juba battles: South Sudan’s Kiir, Machar urged to control forces

The UN and President Omar Al Bashir urged South Sudan’s Salva Kiir and Riek Machar to show restraint as heavy fighting between their troops occurred in Juba since Thursday.

President Omar Al Bashir has called on South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and First Vice-President Riek Machar to show restraint as new fighting occurred in Juba, Sudan News Agency (Suna) reports.

According to Suna, Al Bashir made telephone calls to both President Kiir and Machar, the leader of the SPLM-In Opposition (SPLM-IO), and urged them to stick to self-restraint and to elevate the interest of South Sudan's people for the sake of guaranteeing stability at the region.

He stressed the necessity of avoiding bloodshed and dragging the area into tribal and political disputes that will hinder the peace and development process in South Sudan State, the official Sudanese news agency said.

Hundreds have been killed in South Sudan's capital Juba since Thursday night when skirmishes began escalating to large battles between Kiir and Machar's forces. The South Sudanese Health Ministry stated that the death toll in the capital city has run-up to 271 dead.

Helicopters weer seen flying over Juba on Monday 10 July 2016 (Anna Cavell)

The UN Mission in South Sudan (Unmiss) reported in a press statement that the heavy fighting in the capital city, including in close proximity to the Unmiss compounds at UN House Jebel and Tomping, had prompted approximately 1,000 displaced people to flee from the Unmiss protection of civilians site (PoC) 1 into the Unmiss compound at UN House Jebel.

Independence Day

The first gunfire erupted outside the presidential palace as President Salva Kiir, First-Vice President Riek Machar, and Vice-President Wani Igga were meeting inside. A spokesman for Machar said that the country is “back to war”.

9 July marked the five-year anniversary of independence for South Sudan.

Strongly condemning the escalating violence in and around the South Sudanese capital of Juba that began on 7 July, the United Nations Security Council joined Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in calling for an end to the fighting, while separately demanding that the President and First Vice-President do their utmost to control their respective forces.

UN and diplomatic officials have been targeted, the Secretary-General and the Unmiss reported on Sunday. A number of Chinese and Rwandan peacekeepers were killed or injured in the attacks.

Peace agreement

On April 26, rebel leader of the SPLM-IO Riek Machar returned to the South Sudanese capital of Juba to be sworn in as First Vice-President. Long-lasting peace negotiations have resulted in Machar’s re-appointment as Vice-President, a condition of the power-sharing peace agreement he signed with Kiir last August. The parties then agreed on completing a demilitarisation of Juba and to form a Transitional Government of National Unity, including Kiir’s loyalists and members of the SPLM-IO.

The armed conflict began in December 2013, initially as a fight between Dinka and Nuer soldiers of the presidential guards in barracks in Juba. The fighting in Juba quickly turned into a civil war between the two large ethnic groups, loyal to either President Kiir or Machar. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than two million have been displaced, while many have sought refuge in Sudan and neighbouring countries.

Juba has accused Khartoum more than once of supporting the SPLM-IO by supplying weapons to them. Sudanese authorities have repeatedly denied the allegations.


South Sudan opposition fighters attack soldiers (3 May 2016)

South Sudan peace deal stalled (24 November 2015)

‘Sudan airdropped weapons to South Sudanese rebels’: report (4 June 2015)