White Army Advances in South Sudan, Threatens Capital of Juba

Tuesday, 31 Dec 2013 06:59 AM

By Michael Mullins

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The "White Army" militia is advancing in South Sudan toward the capital city of Juba, giving rise to a renewed armed conflict between two tribes in the new African republic.

As of Monday, approximately 20,000 ethnic Nuer, who comprise the so-called "White Army," were spotted heading for Juba, raising concerns that more violence would welcome in the New Year in the divided African republic that gained its independence from Sudan in July 2011.

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The "White Army" militia gets its name from the white ash from burnt cow dung that members cover their faces and bodies with. The substance acts as an insect repellent, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

The ongoing conflict, which began again on Dec. 15, stems from a rivalry between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, of the Dinka tribe, and former South Sudanese Vice President Riek Machar, who is from the Neur tribe, CNN reported.

On Monday, President Kiir told CNN that the current violence was an attempted coup and that other African nations in the region will be acting quickly to help his government quell the violence if the rebel leader does not agree to peace talks.

"The original leaders and all African leaders should have come in with military support," so that the rebels would be "crushed once and for all," Kiir told CNN, lamenting the lack of military support he received initially from his neighbors when the fighting broke out in mid-December.

However, Kiir told CNN that he did not initially ask for their help.

If by Tuesday the rebels do not put down their weapons and agree to engage in peace talks, Kiir warned that other East African nations will enter the conflict on his government’s side and "we will fight" so that peace "will be restored."

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At a subsequent news conference, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, whose nation borders South Sudan to the South, said that if Machar and his ‘White Army’ did not agree to talks, then the other countries will "go for him," adding that they will "defeat him," CNN noted.

The AFP reported that "White Army" leader Marchar has made several demands before he agrees to sit down with Kiir to negotiate peace, including the release of political allies who were arrested by the Kiir government.

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