Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir has appealed to the warring parties in South Sudan to exercise self-control and stop the fighting that has erupted in the capital Juba since last week.
At least 200 people have been killed in the fighting that broke out on Thursday between armed forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and the country’s First Vice-President, Riek Machar who concluded a peace agreement in August last year.
There have conflicting reports as to the reasons of the clashes with senior officials and military officers from each side blaming the other for causing the fighting.
In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, the Sudanese presidency said that al-Bashir on Sunday held a telephone conversation with Kiir and Machar to check on the situation in Juba following the killing of dozens from both sides.
According to the statement, al-Bashir demanded the two parties “to exercise self-control and give priority to South Sudanese people’s interests to achieve regional stability and to not open a loophole for terrorism”.
He also stressed the need to stop the bloodshed and avoid dragging the country into tribal and political conflicts that could disrupt peace and development in South Sudan.
Also, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said it has engaged in intensive contacts with the regional and international partners concerned with the implementation of South Sudan’s peace agreement to contain the situation.
In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Sunday, it pointed that the Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour would participate in an emergency meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) foreign ministers in Nairobi on Monday to discuss the situation in South Sudan.
The statement added that Sudan would continue to monitor the situation in South Sudan closely and will exert every possible effort in coordination with the regional and international partners to achieve full stability in South Sudan.
Meanwhile, the United States embassy in Juba said “the situation in Juba has significantly deteriorated”, urging American citizens in the South Sudanese capital to remain vigilant and shelter in a safe location.
“There is serious ongoing fighting between government and opposition forces, including near the airport, UNMISS locations, Jebel and elsewhere throughout Juba” added the embassy in its Facebook page.
For its part, the United Nations on Sunday pointed to the use of mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and “heavy offensive weapons” in the fighting, saying that Mi-24 helicopter gunship was seen flying over Juba.
Eyewitnesses said the deteriorating security conditions have forced the residents in South Sudan’s capital to stay at their homes or flee the city.
Also, in a post on Twitter, Kenya’s national carrier Kenya Airways on Sunday announced the suspension of its flights to Juba due “to uncertain security situation”.
South Sudan has canceled this year’s independence celebrations due to the economic crunch resulting from more than two years of civil conflict. It won independence on July 9, 2011 from Sudan after more than two decades of war that ended in a bitter divorce.
The country again plunged into conflict in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup, which the latter denied, leading to a cycle of retaliatory killings.
President Kiir and former rebel leader Machar signed a peace deal in August last year for the formation of the transitional national unity government to end over two years of civil war.