The world’s newest nation, South Sudan, has plummeted into a civil war.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, on Monday, said East African nations have agreed to unite to defeat South Sudanese rebel leader, Riek Machar, if he rejected a ceasefire offer.
Mr. Museveni told reporters in Juba that the crisis in South Sudan was threatening to turn an outburst of ethnic fighting into a regional conflict.
More than 1,000 people were killed in the two weeks of clashes in the world’s newest nation, which raised fears of a civil war in a region ravaged by fighting in Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Ugandan president said “we (East African nations) gave Riek Machar four days to respond to the ceasefire offer and if he does not, we shall have to go for him, all of us, that is what we agreed in Nairobi.’’
Asked what that meant, Mr. Museveni said: “to defeat him (Machar).’’
There was no immediate confirmation of the pact from other countries, including economic powerhouses Kenya and Ethiopia, who have been trying to mediate on the crisis.
The United Nations, Washington and other Western countries who poured millions of dollars of aid into South Sudan since it won its independence from Sudan in 2011, also scrambled to stem the unrest.
Fighting between rival groups of soldiers erupted in Juba on December 15 and triggered clashes in half of South Sudan’s 10 states, often along ethnic lines, between Machar’s group, the Nuer, and President Salva Kiir’s Dinka.
Mr. Kiir, who sacked Machar in July, accused him of starting the fight in a bid to seize power, a charge denied by Mr. Machar.
Mr. Machar, who had since retreated into the bush, acknowledged that he is leading the rebel fighters.
Meanwhile, the fighting, alongside unrest in Libya, lifted oil prices, holding it above 112 dollars a barrel on Monday.
South Sudan has the third-largest oil reserves in sub-Saharan Africa after Angola and Nigeria.