Obama Seeks End to South Sudan’s Conflict

United States President, Barack Obama has called on South Sudan leaders to end the on -going violence and work to resolve tensions peacefully and democratically. This was contained in a statement by President Obama on South Sudan made available to LEADERSHIP by the US Embassy in Abuja.

Obama in the statement said that fighting to settle political scores or to destabilise the government must stop immediately.

"Too much blood has been spilled and too many lives have been lost to allow South Sudan's moment of hope and opportunity to slip from its grasp. Now is the time for South Sudan's leaders to show courage and leadership, to reaffirm their commitment to peace, to unity, and to a better future for their people".

"Today, that future is at risk. South Sudan stands at the precipice. Recent fighting threatens to plunge South Sudan back into the dark days of its past. Inflammatory rhetoric and targeted violence must cease." he said.

He recalled that in 2011, millions of South Sudanese voted to forge a new nation, founded on the promise of a more peaceful and prosperous future for all of South Sudan's people.

In recent years, against great odds, South Sudan has made great progress toward breaking the cycle of violence that characterized much of its history, he added.

Obama called on all sides to listen to the wise counsel of their neighbours, commit to dialogue and take immediate steps to urge calm and support reconciliation. South Sudan's leaders must recognise that compromise with one's political enemy is difficult; but recovering from unchecked violence and unleashed hatred will prove much harder, he said.

The president however reiterated the United State's commitment to remain a steady partner of the South Sudanese people as they seek the security and prosperity they deserve. Meanwhile, South Sudan's central government lost control of the capital of a key oil-producing state yesterday, the military said, as renegade forces loyal to a former deputy president seized more territory in fighting that has raised fears of a full-blown civil war in the world's newest country.

Bentiu, the capital of oil-rich Unity state, is now controlled by a military commander loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar, said Col. Philip Aguer, the South Sudanese military spokesman.

"Bentiu is in the hands of a commander who has declared support for Machar," he said. "Bentiu is not in our hands."

The armed rebels were said to be in control days earlier of some of South Sudan's oil fields, which have historically been a target for rebel movements, endangering the country's economic lifeblood.

Leadership (Abuja)