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South Sudan government agrees to end hostilities

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published December 27, 2013 at 8:22 a.m. Updated December 27, 2013 at 9:11 a.m.

NAIROBI, Kenya — South Sudan's government on Friday agreed to end hostilities, regional leaders said at the end of a crisis summit, raising hopes for a potential breakthrough in efforts to cease violence that has displaced more than 120,000 people in the world's newest country.

East African leaders meeting in Kenya under a bloc called IGAD said in a statement Friday that they "welcomed the commitment by [South Sudan's government] to an immediate cessation of hostilities."

But former Vice President Riek Machar, Kiir's political rival who is accused of orchestrating a failed coup that the government says sparked unrest across the oil-producing country, was not represented at the summit in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

The leaders' joint statement said Machar is urged to "make similar commitments" to end hostilities.

Machar, the alleged leader of renegade forces now in control of some parts of South Sudan, remains a fugitive wanted by the military. At least 10 of his political allies are in detention for their roles in the purported coup plot. Machar denies there was a coup attempt, and some officials with the ruling party insist violence broke out when presidential guards from Kiir's majority Dinka tribe tried to disarm guards from the Nuer ethnic group of Machar, leading to wider military clashes along ethnic lines.

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