SOUTH SUDAN’S WARRING parties are set to begin peace talks in Ethiopia after more than two weeks of fighting between government forces and those loyal to former vice-president Riek Machar.
Here is a timeline of the violence in the world’s newest nation which is feared to have killed thousands of people and displaced some 200,000.
- Heavy gunfire erupts overnight in South Sudan’s capital Juba around a barracks close to the city centre.
- President Salva Kiir blames forces loyal to Machar, who was dismissed in July.
Kiir comes from the Dinka people — the largest ethnic group — and Machar from the Nuer, the second biggest.
- The government says it has arrested 10 people, including eight former ministers, and is tracking Machar.
- Rebels loyal to Machar seize the strategic town of Bor, capital of the eastern powderkeg state of Jonglei.
- Machar calls for Kiir to be overthrown and accuses him of trying to “incite inter-ethnic fighting”.
- US President Barack Obama says that South Sudan stands at the “precipice” of civil war and deploys several dozen US soldiers to ensure the safety of Americans.
- The African Union sends a peacekeeping mission.
- Four US troops are wounded when their aircraft comes under fire during an evacuation mission to Bor.
- Rebels seize the capital of oil producing Unity state, Bentiu, north of Juba.
- Mass grave is reported by the United Nations to have been found in Bentiu.
- The UN Security Council agrees to almost double the size of the military peacekeeping force in South Sudan to 12,500 troops.
- Government forces and rebels claim control of the key oil town of Malakal, capital of Upper Nile State in the northeast.
- The government reiterates accusations that Machar is mobilising up to 25,000 youths to attack its interests.
- Rebels claim to have recaptured Bor.
- Machar agrees to send envoys to peace negotiations in Addis Ababa but rejects face-to-face talks with Kiir and tells AFP his forces are marching on the capital.
- Kiir rules out power sharing with the rebels.
- The African Union threatens “targeted sanctions” over the violence.
- Ugandan lawmakers accuses President Yoweri Museveni of meddling in the conflict.
- Envoys from both sides arrive in Addis Ababa, but it might take several days to begin formal talks, Ethiopia’s foreign minister says.
Read: UN says many prisoners, civilians killed in South Sudan
Read: Goal has evacuated staff from South Sudan