South Sudan’s leaders are in emergency talks after days of violence between rival factions in the capital left at least 272 people dead and stoked fears of a return to civil war, an ambassador for the oil-producing African nation said.
The capital, Juba, is calm after both President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar ordered their forces to maintain a cease-fire, South Sudanese Ambassador to Kenya Chol Ajongo told reporters Tuesday in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.
Machar’s troops have been “dislodged” from their main base at Jebel and the rest of Juba following clashes with Kiir’s forces since Friday, according to Lul Ruai Koang, a spokesman for the president’s army. “They are on the run,” and the government will conduct searches for remaining fighters and assess the situation, he said by phone from the city late Monday.
The mobile phone of Machar’s military faction’s spokesman, William Gatjiath Deng, didn’t connect when Bloomberg called for comment.
South Sudan, which marked its fifth anniversary of independence from Sudan on Saturday, has been ruled by the transitional government since April, after Kiir and Machar agreed to work together to end a civil war that began in December 2013. The conflict forced more than 2 million people to flee their homes and cut oil production in the country, which has sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest crude reserves, by at least a third to as little as 120,000 barrels per day.
The main international airport, which shut during the fighting, will reopen Tuesday, according to Ajongo. He said South Sudan opposes any deployment of regional forces to help stabilize the country.