Fighting has broken out in the Upper Nile capital, Malakal frustrating President Salva Kiir’s plans for peace and reconciliation in the warring South Sudan.
The Upper Nile Information minister told Eye Radio that fighting was between government troops and forces suspected to be loyal to General Johnson Oliny.
The minister said it started yesterday near Governor Simon Kun’s residence in Malakal town and spread to Wau Shilluk.
The cause of the fighting is unclear.
Fighting continued this morning after the militia of the Dinka Baliet, Akoka and Padang joined gubernatorial guards.
Gatluak Liphos, Minister of Information of Upper Nile State told Radio Tamazuj that the militia known as ‘Abu Shouk’ and ‘Mazlum’ is also part of the fighting forces.
He said Shilluk forces from the west bank were shelling these groups including the people of Khor Fulus who sometime back warned that they would take up arms against rebels of Riek Machar.
According to the radio, some civilians have been killed and wounded in Hai Al Saha and Hai Salam and Hai Jellaba, and rushed to the Malakal Teaching Hospital.
The state government is now holding a crisis meeting in Juba.
Only on Monday, President Kiir set what he says is the government’s roadmap to realising peace, reconciliation and food security in the country.
In his address to the opening of the National Parliament in Juba, President Kiir expressed optimism that peace will be achieved through the IGAD led dialogue.
He appreciated the role played by the TROIKA countries in funding the South Sudan peace dialogue in Ethiopia.
He urged the United States to continue with its support of the peaceful resolution of the conflict in the country.
In his key remarks, the president outlined four benchmarks which his government seeks, to tackle the crisis:
Peace and Reconciliation
President Salva Kiir called on the South Sudanese to put aside their internal differences and come together as people of one country, one nation in a bid to save the country from total collapse.
In a rare gesture, President Kiir made a special appeal to the SPLM-In Opposition saying that the crisis needs collective efforts in order to reach a peaceful solution.
He also called for honest and open negotiations that puts the interest of the people of South Sudan first.
Commitment to Cessation of Hostilities
President Salva Kiir also pledged his forces and government to the full implementation and commitment to any ceasefire signed or to be signed.
He said this will allow for a peaceful and amicable environment for the negotiations to succeed.
President Kiir added that the implementation of any ceasefire will also allow for the safe passage and access of humanitarian assistance to the people affected by the conflict.
Security and Protection
President Salva Kiir asked the security organs in the country to provide security to all the citizens with disregard to their political affiliations or where they come from.
He urged the heads of all security forces to exercise good leadership in availing protection for the citizens of the country.
President Salva Kiir finally appealed to the general population to embark on farming as a way to address the food deficit affecting the country.
He says the tractors he donated should be distributed evenly to the ten states to facilitate farming during the rainy season.