The president of Sudan arrived Monday in the capital of his troubled southern neighbor — and oft-adversary — South Sudan to facilitate peace talks as the new country descends into violent chaos.
Omar al-Bashir is in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, amid ethnic fighting that threatens to tear the world’s newest country apart at the seams. He will meet with South Sudan President Salva Kiir, who is leading the government effort to suppress rebel fighters backed by Riek Machar, the former vice president and a member of an opposing tribe, the Guardian reports.
The president of Sudan, which depends on revenue from the south’s massive oil exports that are piped through the north, fought rebel groups from the south for more than a decade before he ultimately endorsed the region’s path to independence, achieved in 2011. He could be a prime mediator between the warring sides because he has relationships with both Kiir and Machar, his information minister told Voice of America.
Representatives of both sides met over the weekend to discuss a ceasefire, but talks stalled as fighting raged in the oil-producing state of Jonglei, and reports of gunfire streamed out of Juba. The violence has killed more than 1,000 people since Dec. 15 and displaced nearly 200,000.