South Sudan's rival factions agree to cease hostilities after clashes

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JUBA, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan's rival opposition factions on Thursday agreed to cease hostilities following deadly clashes last week that left 34 soldiers dead on both sides near the Sudan border.

Puok Both Baluang, director of Information and Public Relations for Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army-In-Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) led by First Vice President Riek Machar that clashed with the breakaway faction led by Simon Gatwech Dual, said both sides have agreed to cease hostilities.

The move follows clashes last week at Magenis near the Sudan border between troops loyal to Machar and his former chief of staff Dual that left 34 soldiers dead.

The fighting followed the recent declaration by senior officers of SPLA-IO led by Dual deposing Machar from the leadership of SPLM/A-IO while accusing him of nepotism and lacking strong leadership. The breakaway faction also blamed Machar for weakening the hand of the former rebel movement in the coalition government.

"The breakaway group from the SPLA-IO calling themselves Kitguang declaration called Machar twice; they held two phone call discussions, Gen. Johnson Olony is the one who initiated it; he informed Machar about his group's acceptance for a ceasefire," said Baluang in Juba, capital of South Sudan. "The discussion was conducted in an amicable atmosphere, Machar told Olony that there is a need to resolve the differences on the incident (clashes) that happened in Magenis in Upper Nile state in a peaceful manner."

He disclosed that Machar and Olony also agreed to immediately send the Commissioner of Panyikang County to the County headquarters to assume his duties, adding that SPLM/A-IO is ready to resolve the matter in a peaceful manner.

"The two agreed to send Mustafa Gai, the Commissioner of Panyikang County to his headquarters so that he can assure the people that peace is there, they say they will maintain the communication," said Baluang. "As SPLM/A-IO, we believe discussion in a peaceful manner is the only way to address our differences."

The SPLM/A-IO waged more than six years of rebellion since December 2013 against President Salva Kiir before signing the 2018 revitalized peace deal in Ethiopia to end the conflict.

Years of conflict in the youngest nation killed tens of thousands and displaced more than 2 million people both internally and externally. Enditem

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