S.Sudan says orders army to halt attacking rebels for month

by Reuters
Wednesday, 7 May 2014 16:08 GMT

Children displaced by recent fighting walk through flood water inside the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) camp in Malakal, Upper Nile State May 1, 2014. REUTERS/Drazen Jorgic

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By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA, May 7 (Reuters) - South Sudan's government said it ordered its army on Wednesday to halt attacking rebel forces for a month amid mounting international pressure for a deal to end ethnic violence that risks spiralling into genocide.

South Sudan's Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth said that the government's commitment to honour a "month of tranquillity" meant it could still fight back if attacked.

There was no immediate word from the rebels.

"We have already given our forces an order," Lueth told a news conference in the Ethiopian capital where faltering peace talks are being held.

A January ceasefire deal swiftly fell apart, with both sides blaming the other of violating the agreement.

The government's truce pledge comes two days ahead of planned face-to-face talks between President Salva Kiir and rebel commander Riek Machar, who has called for Kiir to resign.

"President Kiir will stay in power until the elections take place," Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told Reuters in Juba.

Machar said in January that Kiir had lost the people's trust after fighting broke out in the presidential guard in December and quickly spread across the country about the size of Texas.

Thousands of civilians have been killed in the four-month conflict.

In a sign of growing world frustration at the failure of South Sudan's leaders to end the bloodshed, the United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on two commanders on opposing sides of the ethnic violence.

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