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South Sudan gov’t Twitter feed: No vote next year

JASON STRAZIUSO
Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — South Sudan’s government said Monday that elections scheduled for next year will not take place and it indicated they would instead be postponed two or three years.

The government, which made the announcement on its official Twitter feed, said it was postponing the vote in order to tackle the issue of reconciliation among its people.

South Sudan was plunged into massive violence in December when President Salva Kiir accused his former vice president, Riek Machar, of trying to oust him in a coup.

Ethnic-based violence has raged since. The two leaders met in Ethiopia on Friday and signed a peace deal. But violence again flared over the weekend, with both sides accusing the other of having broken the new accord.

The unilateral declaration that elections have been postponed is not likely to be welcomed by Machar or by international partners like the United States, which worked hard to help South Sudan peacefully break away from Sudan after decades of war.

No new fighting was reported on Monday, said military spokesman Col. Philip Aguer. The situation in Bentiu — the capital of an oil-producing state — is stable and government troops were in full control, he said.

The government was trying to arrange a trip by monitors from IGAD — a regional bloc of nations trying to broker peace — to visit Bentiu, he said.

Aguer said the monitors would verify that rebels launched a Sunday attack there, breaking Friday’s new cease-fire. He said government forces are committed to the cease-fire but he questioned if forces loyal to Machar are committed.

A rebel spokesman on Sunday accused the government of breaking the cease-fire.

Thousands of people have died in the violence since December, and U.N. human rights investigators say that gross human rights abuses have taken place. More than 1.3 million people have fled their homes and aid workers worry that mass hunger will soon set in since few people are now planting crops.

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