AFRICANGLOBE – A new round of violence between the South Sudan’s democratically elected government and foreign backed rebels has cast renewed fears peace talks have become irreparably derailed.
Fresh fighting between the South Sudanese military and rebels erupted on Friday. The Paris based Sudan Tribune described the fighting as “heavy,” but there are conflicting reports as to which side started the clashes.
Both the rebels and government have accused each other of violating a tenuous ceasefire agreement.
The fighting comes a week after stuttering peace talks were suspended. On October 4 Africa’s eight nation Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) said it would suspend negotiations to speak separately with the government and rebels.
IGAD has been mediating the nine month old talks, though there haven’t been any breakthroughs for months.
South Sudan has been mired in violence since former vice president turned rebel leader Riek Machar took up arms against President Salva Kiir’s government in December.
The conflict was sparked when Kiir sacked Machar – accusing him of plotting a coup. Machar denied the allegations, but now commands a 100,000 strong rebel force.
The fighting has displaced over 1 million people, and derailed the country’s economy. Even before fighting broke out, the country was struggling with high inflation, but now the agricultural sector is facing paralysis.
According to international monitors, fighting has made it difficult to plant and harvest crops, sparking what the United Nations has warned is the worst food crisis in the world today.
Over 2.5 million South Sudanese have been affected, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.