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We shall crush you, Museveni tells Machar

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Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni talks to the media after casting his ballot at a polling centre in Kaaro High School in RushereUgandan President Yoweri Museveni yesterday told South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar to accept a ceasefire or face military defeat.

He said the East African heads of state meeting in Nairobi, last Friday, had resolved to send in soldiers to crush Machar’s rebels in Bor.

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“We gave Riek Machar four days to respond (to the ceasefire offer) and if he doesn’t we shall have to go for him, all of us. That is what we agreed in Nairobi,” Museveni told reporters in Juba.

Asked what that meant, Museveni responded: “to defeat him.”

The Intergovernmental Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Assembly of Heads of State and government meeting in Nairobi was attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, President Hassan Mahamud of Somalia, Museveni (Uganda), Bakri Hassan Saleh, the first Vice President of Sudan and South Sudan Foreign minister Barnabas Marial Benjamin.

The United Nations, the United States and the European Union who have poured millions of dollars of aid into South Sudan since it won its independence from Sudan in 2011, have also scrambled to stem the unrest. The deadline for declaring a ceasefire ends today.

Fighting between rival groups of soldiers erupted in the capital Juba on Dec. 15, then triggered clashes in half of South Sudan’s 10 states – often along ethnic lines, between Machar’s group, the Nuer, and President Salva Kiir’s Dinka.

Kiir sacked Machar in July, accusing him of starting the fighting in a bid to seize power – a charge denied by Machar. He has since retreated into the bush and acknowledged he is leading rebel fighters.

The fighting, alongside unrest in Libya, has lifted oil prices, holding it above $112 a barrel on Monday. South Sudan has the third-largest oil reserves in sub-Saharan Africa after Angola and Nigeria, according to British Petroleum.

Machar has responded coolly to the ceasefire offer and the army has said it has continued to fight his soldiers.

Bor’s mayor, Nhial Majak Nhial, said he was urging civilians to escape Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, as a rag-tag army of youths approached the town.

– the-star.co.ke

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