S. Sudan Rebel: I've Seized Town, Now I'll Talk

Riek Machar says he has taken Bor, is reportedly en route to Ethiopia

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 31, 2013 7:47 AM CST

(Newser) – What is clear: That heavy fighting has erupted in Bor, a hotly contested provincial capital in South Sudan; a military rep says government troops are fighting renegade forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar as well as the pro-Machar tribal militia known as the "White Army," reports the AP. What is very unclear: If Bor has actually fallen to Machar's forces, as he claims it has, per the BBC, which calls the assault on Bor "a clear attempt by Mr. Machar to show his military power, which will strengthen his hand in any negotiations." As for those negotiations, Machar says he that he is now willing to begin peace talks.

But as the BBC points out, that addresses only one of the two key demands that regional leaders are insisting upon. The other: That the rebels agree to a ceasefire by the end of today. To the contrary, Machar says he will not tell his forces to lay down their arms, but that such a proposal can be discussed during the talks, which are to take place in Ethiopia. The AFP reports South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and Machar are due to arrive in Addis Ababa later today. It remains to be seen if that will be enough to appease South Sudan's neighbors; Reuters reports that Uganda's president yesterday said East African forces would take action against Machar if he didn't meet their demands.

In this photo taken Friday, July 26, 2013, former South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar speaks to the media.   (AP Photo/Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin)
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