JUBA — Twenty-five thousand young men who make up a tribal militia known as the "White Army" are marching toward a contested state capital in South Sudan, an official said Saturday, dimming hopes for a cease-fire.
Seeking an end to the nearly two-week crisis in which an estimated 1,000 people have been killed, leaders from across East Africa announced on Friday that South Sudan had agreed to a "cessation of hostilities" against forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar, whom the government accuses of leading a coup attempt Dec. 15 that erupted into spiraling violence.
But Machar rejected that, saying in an interview with the BBC that any cease-fire had to be negotiated by delegations from both sides. The government in the capital, Juba, seized on that statement to further condemn Machar.
"Dr. Riek Machar has put obstacles to this genuine call by issuing pre-conditions that a cease-fire cannot be reached unless a negotiation is conducted," said Vice President James Wani Igga. "This is complete intransigence and obstinacy because the main issue now is to stop violence."
In addition to those killed, tens of thousands are seeking shelters at United Nations camps. More fighting is expected.