Country Falls into Civil War
In late July 2013, President Salva Kiir, dismissed his cabinet and vice-president, Riek Machar. He said the move was intended to streamline the government and rout out corruption. However, many saw it as an attempt to curtail the ambition and power of Machar. Machar and his backers called Kiir a dictator, and political unrest followed for months. In December, Kiir accused Machar of attempting a coup. Machar denied the allegation, and fighting broke out in Juba between government troops and rebels loyal to Machar. Tribal rivalries also factored into the violence, with the Dinka, the majority tribe, backing Kiir, and the second-largest tribe, the Nuer, supporting Machar. Rebels took control of Unity and Upper Nile, two oil-producing states, but government troops remained better armed and in control of most other states. About 10,000 people died in what is considered a civil war and about 700,000 people fled their homes to escape the violence. The government and rebels signed a cease-fire in late January 2014 in Ethiopia. Both sides agreed to halt military operations while they negotiate further. The status of detainees, mostly supporters of Machar, remains a sensitive issue. Both sides violated the cease-fire, and negotiations in February produced few results.
Fighting continued and reached a low point in April, when the pro-Machar rebels took over the oil town of Bentiu and massacred hundreds of people, mostly civilians. The rebels targeted anyone they suspected supported Kiir.
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