South Sudan VP Machar urges calm and restraint

South Sudan's capital was rocked Sunday by heavy arms fire between forces loyal to the president and those of the vice president

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South Sudan’s vice president said on Monday his loyalists had been bombarded by forces of President Salva Kiir, showing he was “not interested in peace”, but the former rebel also called for restraint and said he had not lost hope for the future.

“I urge calm and restraint throughout these skirmishes. I’m safe. No one should take laws in their own hands to destabilise this country,” Vice President Riek Machar wrote on his official Twitter account, adding South Sudan “needs all of us.”

The United States has demanded an immediate end to renewed fighting in the capital of South Sudan on Sunday, ordering all non-essential personnel out of the troubled country.

“The United States strongly condemns the latest outbreak of fighting in Juba today between forces aligned with President Salva Kiir Mayardit and those aligned with First Vice President Riek Machar Teny, including reports we have that civilian sites may have been attacked,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

“In response to ongoing violence in South Sudan, the Department of State ordered today the departure of non-emergency personnel from the US Embassy in Juba.”

Urging Americans in the country to take security precautions, he warned that “the embassy’s ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Juba is extremely limited.”

The battles are the first between the army and ex-rebels in Juba since rebel leader Machar returned to take up the post of vice president in a unity government in April, under an accord to end a bloody civil war.

Washington is pressing “both leaders and their political allies and commanders to immediately restrain their forces from further fighting, return them to barracks and prevent additional violence and bloodshed,” Kirby said.

Security Council

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has pressed South Sudan’s neighbors Sunday to help end renewed fighting in the capital, asking for additional peacekeepers.

In a unanimous declaration, the council’s 15 member countries also demanded that President Salva Kiir and his Vice President Riek Machar “do their utmost to control their respective forces, urgently end the fighting and prevent the spread of violence, and genuinely commit themselves to the full and immediate implementation of the peace agreement, including the permanent ceasefire and redeployment of military forces from Juba.”

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