The United States played an important role in facilitating the independence of South Sudan, the world’s newest country. Now U.S. leaders are watching the unfolding of an ethnic-tinged civil conflict that has already left hundreds dead and displaced around 200,000 people.
Fighting broke out in the middle of last month between government forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those allied with former Vice President Riek Machar, whom Kiir removed from office last year along with all his other ministers. Kiir accused Machar of orchestrating a coup against his government shortly before fighting began.
While violence continues in parts of the country, negotiations are ongoing in neighboring Ethiopia under the mediation of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African regional organization. Mahboub Maalim, IGAD executive secretary, on Saturday announced the formal start of negotiations, which will focus on the cessation of hostilities and the fate of political detainees held by the government.