Ceasefire Called in South Sudan

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2014-01_aed11892c3.jpgcreisinger/Thinkstock (ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia) -- There has been a ceasefire in one of the world’s major hot spots but it’s not Syria. After weeks of fighting that has left thousands dead, the government of South Sudan and rebel forces agreed to lay down their arms Thursday during negotiations in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. The conflict broke out in mid-December between rival factions of the military.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir blamed rebel leader Riek Machar, the former vice president he fired last July, for stirring up the violence. It’s estimated that half-a-million people were displaced because of the fighting, which also prompted the State Department to evacuate U.S. nationals living in South Sudan.  A small unit of Marines was also deployed to the country to help protect American interests.

While the opposition seemed to welcome the ceasefire, which is due to begin Friday, Kiir’s government has expressed some doubts whether all the militias involved in the conflict can be controlled. Meanwhile, the White House called the deal the "first critical step toward building a lasting peace."

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