December 27, 2013 - 19:31 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The government of South Sudan has agreed to an immediate end to fighting with rebels, East African leaders meeting in Nairobi said, according to BBC News.
The leaders said they "welcomed the commitment by the government of the Republic of South Sudan to an immediate cessation of hostilities". They called on rebel leader Riek Machar to "make similar commitments".
More than 1,000 people are said to have died in recent fighting in the world's newest state. At least 100,000 people have fled their homes, with about 60,000 seeking refuge at UN compounds across the country, according to the UN, which is sending extra peacekeepers.
President Salva Kiir is engaged in a deadly power struggle with Machar, his former vice-president. Members of Kiir's Dinka ethnic group and Machar's Nuer community have both been targeted in the violence.
The violence erupted after President Kiir accused his former vice-president, who was sacked in July, of plotting a coup. The fighting quickly spread to half of Sudan's 10 states.
East African regional leaders, who make up an eight-member bloc known as Igad, held talks in the Kenyan capital Nairobi a day after the leaders of Kenya and Ethiopia met Kiir in South Sudan's capital, Juba.
They have said they will not accept a violent overthrow of the government in South Sudan.
President Kiir did not attend the talks in Nairobi nor, apparently, did any representative of Machar.
Violence has continued through the week with conflicting reports on Friday, Dec 27 about the situation in Malakal, capital of oil-producing Upper Nile State.
Army spokesman Philip Aguer told Reuters in Juba that the rebels in Malakal had been defeated. "[Government forces] are 100% in control of Malakal town and are pursuing the forces of the coup," he said.
But a rebel spokesman in Unity State, Moses Ruai Lat, told AFP "the whole of Malakal" was now in the hands of Machar loyalists. "All those forces who are loyal to the president have been cleared and the former governor of Upper Nile, Simon Kun Poch, is on the run," he said.
The fighting is affecting oil production, which accounts for 98% of government revenue.
Calling for an immediate halt to the fighting, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said two peace envoys should be appointed to talk to both sides. He suggested that one of these could be Gen Lazaro Sumbeiywo, who helped broker the 2005 Sudan peace deal which led to the South's independence in 2011.
China, which buys most of South Sudan's oil, has also sent an envoy to the region to try to negotiate an end to the fighting.
The UN Security Council has voted to almost double the number of UN peacekeepers to 12,500.