Last week, South Sudan’s former vice president Riek Machar rejected President Salva Kiir’s proposal to name him as second vice president as part of negotiations to end the country’s recent deadly conflict. Machar says he does not want to form a transitional government before reaching a peace agreement.
Fighting broke out last year, on Dec. 15, when internal conflict between Kiir and Machar turned violent less than three years after obtaining it hard-won independence from former civil war foe Sudan. In May, the two politicians agreed to end fighting and establish a transitional government of national unity within 60 days.
The UN estimates tens of thousands have already died in the conflict, and at least 1.5 million others have been displaced. They say it is the worst famine in East Africa since the mid-1980s. According to UNICEF and the WFP, 50,000 children are at risk of dying before the end of the year. Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, at the end of July called the circumstances in South Sudan a nutritional disaster. Senior UN officials say both government officials and rebels regularly harass aid workers and block food deliveries to rural regions to gain a tactical advantage.
Last week, the UN Security Council blamed both parties for showing little interest in ending the fighting because both have violated the truce. The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on military commanders of both Kiir and Machar, and warned tougher sanctions will follow if the two parties do not compromise for the sake of peace.
Defending their failure to meet the Aug. 10 deadline for the truce, Machar said that his group wants to negotiate directly with the government. Instead, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development Regional (IGAD) insisted on forming a committee for negotiations through a roundtable. Machar insisted that he wants other stakeholders to participate only in a “consultative” manner. IGAD has extended the deadline to Aug. 28.
Father, we lift up South Sudan, a region that has suffered hardship and war for generations. Thank You that Open Doors has continued to remain open to serve this struggling nation. Grant them wisdom in how to meet this current crisis in the midst of war. We pray that President Kiir and Reik Machar will set aside their differences and work together toward peace and stability in the nation which they are called to lead. Guide the international community, Father, in negotiating a peaceful settlement. And we pray for the thousands upon thousands of civilians who have died or are without sufficient food. Protect the aid workers so that they will be able to get food and temporary shelter to those in need. And, we know that permanent peace can only come through a right relationship with You, and so we pray that You will draw the leaders and others who do not know You, into saving faith. Taking away their hearts of stone; we ask that You replace it with new hearts of flesh that desire to serve You and their nation in godly, reconciling ways. In the name of Jesus, who reconciled us while we were yet sinners to Himself, to a holy and righteous God, Amen.