[JURIST] The government of South Sudan [official website] on Friday offered to immediately cease fighting with the rebels, but warned that its forces would not hesitate to defend themselves in the event of an attack. Violence began after ethnic Dinka, loyal to President Salva Kiir [BBC profile], and Nuer soldiers, following former vice president Riek Machar [Al Arabya profile], clashed on December 15. The government, led by President Kiir, met at a summit in Nairobi [JURIST report] on Thursday to discuss solutions to end the conflict. Machar, who denies that his conditions for a truce have been met, has four days to accept the proposed deal. If accepted, the truce would go into effect and end the violence immediately. The government may take further measures if the rebels do not cease their fighting in that time. The summit also provided that both sides must meet before the end of the year. Fighting was reported to have continued today despite the proposed truce.
UN officials stated on Tuesday that they have found three mass grave sites [UK Guardian report] and believe that the death toll of the conflict may already be in the thousands. The US government deployed 150 military personnel [JURIST report] on Monday in preparation of possible evacuation of US citizens from South Sudan. Over 300 US citizens had already been evacuated as of the deployment. The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) [official website] began evacuating [JURIST report] all non-critical staff from Juba earlier this month after a UNMISS base was assaulted, killing 20 ethnic Dinka civilians and two UN peacekeepers. In April, prior to the current conflict, UNMISS issued a report [JURIST report] urging the South Sudan government to do more to protect civilians from violence. South Sudan is the world’s youngest sovereign nation, having just celebrated the first anniversary of its independence [JURIST report] last July.