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South Sudan’s Government cancels elections, vows ‘peace negotiations without pressure’

Juba, February 13, 2015 (SSNA) -- South Sudanese government has on Friday postponed elections originally set by South Sudan’s National Elections Commission to take place on the 30th of June this year.

South Sudan’s information Minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, said council of ministers has taken unilateral action by postponing elections and extending president’s term to two years. The resolution also applies to all elected positions.

"We have passed a resolution extending the tenure of the president and the parliament, including all elected positions," Makuei told AFP news agency.

Makuei argues that the extension will give his government enough time to negotiate with rebels without pressure.

South Sudan's parliament is expected to vote on the cabinet’s resolution.

The decision to delay elections is welcomed by the rival Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in Opposition (SPLM-IO); however, the SPLM-IO said Kiir’s government does not have any mandate to lengthen its own term.

Heavy Fighting Erupts in Unity State

Juba/Addis Ababa, February 10, 2015 (SSNA) -- Heavy fighting between government and rebel forces broke out in the capital of South Sudan’s oil-rich Unity State, on Tuesday with both sides using heavy artilleries, the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) has learned.

Fighting has been raging since early Tuesday with both sides accusing each other of attack.

South Sudanese government said rebel forces have attacked their positions in and around Bentiu and accuse the anti-government fighters of violating the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CHA) which was signed in January last year in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

“The rebels are shelling our positions in Bentiu. This is a violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement, and we will act in self-defence,” South Sudan’s Defence Minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk, was quoted by AFP as saying.

Meanwhile, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in Opposition (SPLA-IO) dismiss Juuk’s claims, saying Juba government is relying on lies and that the accusations Minister Juuk labeled against the opposition forces are ‘pure lies’.

“What really happened is that Juba soldiers with their foreign allies first attacked our outposts; they came and attacked us thinking they will flush us out of our positions,” Captain Peter Keer Mayoi who said he participated in the fight told the South Sudan News Agency by  satellite phone in Unity State.

“These are pure lies, they should blame themselves not us because we were just responding to their attacks...now Kuol Manyang Juuk is lying because we defeated his soldiers back to where they came from,” he asserted.

Fighting erupted in December of 2013 between different units of presidential guards after months of political chaos among senior leaders of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party.

President Kiir accuses his main-rival, Dr. Machar, of planning a coup. Machar denies the allegation saying Kiir premeditated the alleged coup in an attempt to try to get rid of his rivals.

UN Humanitarian Chief Calls for Arms Embargo Against South Sudan

Juba, February 10, 2015 (SSNA) -- The United Nations Under-Secretary General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, calls for a collective UN action to impose arms embargo against the Republic of South Sudan, asserting that it can make it harder for people to fight if there are no guns.

The call comes just days after UN said illegal roadblocks are delaying humanitarian aid to needy people.

“Anything that takes weapons off the streets, out of countries and out of communities will help us because ultimately for us it’s about bringing peace,” Amos told the Guardian Newspaper (UK).

“If there are no weapons, it’s harder for people to fight, peace will come sooner and we can get more aid to the people who so desperately need it,” she added.

Last week, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that South Sudan food insecurity is going to get worse by the end of March unless something is done. Amos also said South Sudan’s government does not want to admit hunger figures of 2.5 million people facing severe food shortages.

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