UN Calls for Calm as Fighting Breaks Out in South Sudan

UN Calls for Calm as Fighting  Breaks Out in South SudanUN Calls for Calm as Fighting  Breaks Out in South Sudan

There has been heavy fighting outside the presidential compound in Juba, sparking fears of a renewed civil war.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed for calm and said he was “deeply alarmed” by the clashes. The gunfire continued Friday night outside a UN base sheltering some 28,000 displaced people.

Fighting started when South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar were meeting to discuss the country’s security situation, AP reported.

Both leaders urged calm, with Machar saying “measures will be taken so that peace is restored even to the heart of the city.”

The US Embassy in Juba has advised its citizens to “shelter in peace, preferably away from doors and windows.”

The gunfire came a day after five South Sudanese troops were killed in clashes between rebel army factions in the capital. The renewed fighting also comes as the African country marks its fifth independence anniversary on Saturday.

The violence is reminiscent of the skirmishes between the factions of South Sudanese soldiers in 2013, which plunged the newly-independent country into a civil war and killed tens of thousands of people.

The opposing army factions, led by Kiir and Machar separately, have been stationed in Juba since April after the warring parties signed a peace agreement last year. But the troops have yet to work together to jointly maintain peace in the capital.

On Friday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Kiir and Machar to discipline their military leaders and end the fighting. He said the new clashes were “yet another illustration of the parties’ lack of serious commitment to the peace process,” and that it represented “a new betrayal of the people of South Sudan.”