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South Sudan government, rebels halt peace talks

AFP , Tuesday 4 Mar 2014
S.Sudan
Angeline Teny, wife of South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar, speaks during a news conference in Addis Ababa (Photo: Reuters)
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South Sudan's government and rebels are taking a more than two-week break from key peace talks having seemingly made little to no progress in three weeks, mediators said Tuesday.

The IGAD regional bloc, which is brokering the peace talks being held in Ethiopia, said both sides were halting the talks until 20 March in order "to further reflect and consult on guiding documents of the process".

A spokesperson for IGAD, Tigist Hailu, said the two sides has yet to even finalise a framework for the talks, which are aimed at resolving the underlying causes of South Sudan's slide into conflict.

The conflict broke out in the capital Juba on 15 December  amid tensions within the ruling party of President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar, but quickly spread across the country.

The unrest in South Sudan, the world's newest nation, has left thousands dead and displaced close to 900,000 people, including tens of thousands who have crammed into UN bases in fear of ethnic attacks by either President Kiir's Dinka tribe or rebel leader Machar's Nuer tribe.

The two signs signed a ceasefire agreement on 23 January, but heavy fighting has continued to rage in several oils, including the key northern oil hub of Malakal which was recaptured by rebels.

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