Guns blaze as newest country marks freedom
KHARTOUM, (CAJ News) – THE fifth anniversary of the independence of Africa’s newest country has been marked amid a civil war that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and displaced more than 2 million .
With a population of over 11 million, South Sudan became independent from Sudan on July 9, 2001.
However, it has been torn by conflict since 2013 after a power struggle broke out between President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar, as the president accused Machar and ten others of attempting a coup.
Ahead of the marking of five years of independence on Saturday, at least 115 soldiers from different armed factions were killed after gun battles broke out across the capital Juba.
The fighting began outside the presidential compound as Kiir met Machar, the former rebel leader now the vice president in the inclusive government established earlier this year.
The government is meant to oversee a transitional period leading up to elections in 30 months – a possible future source of tension given Machar’s determination to become president and Kiir’s apparent refusal to support it.
The United States has urged all parties in the government of national unity to take immediate steps to reduce tensions.
John Kirby, US Assistant Secretary, welcomed the joint public message by Kiir, Machar, and second vice president James Wani Igga calling for calm.
Up to 300 000 people have been killed during the war. More than 1 million people have been displaced inside the country and 400 000 fled to neighbouring countries.
Over 400 000 children have been forced out of school. Some 15 000 minors are child soldiers.
– CAJ News
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