South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has ordered a ceasefire after days of intense fighting in Juba left more than 150 dead and many more injured since fighting broke out on Thursday.
Machar, who is now the country’s first vice president under a fragile peace deal, also said he was still in South Sudan but would not elaborate.
The bloodshed raises fears of a return to the two-year civil war between Mr Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Mr Machar’s breakaway Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition.
A “massive explosion” hit shortly after 9 a.m. followed by further blasts in the Tomping area of Juba, home to embassies, the airport and a United Nations base, said an aid worker.
The UN called for an immediate arms embargo, as well as attack helicopters to strengthen its 13,000-strong peacekeeping force.
“This is the time to massively reinforce United Nations action”, Ban told reporters, adding that fighting had spread to areas outside of Juba in Central Equatoria state. India is planning to evacuate its citizens, according to a tweet by its external affairs minister.
Kiir and Machar signed a peace accord previous year and formed an uneasy transitional coalition government.
“Armed leaders, their commanders and forces must focus their resources on bringing about an immediate end to the violence”, Rice said.
Despite, the call for calm, gun fighting has continued to escalate, claiming lives.
“Many people have been killed in heavy fighting”.
Two UN compounds in Juba have been caught in cross-fire and sustained mortar and heavy artillery fire, he said.
“President Obama has made the decision to instruct the Ambassador and her team to stay and support the people of South Sudan during this crisis”, the statement said. “Rarely has a country’s conduct squandered so much promise so quickly”.
“We call on the leadership of South Sudan to take the necessary steps to end the current conflict and to ensure the country remains on course towards the consolidation of the hard-won peace”, he said.
Aid agencies think hundreds of thousands have been killed since civil war erupted in 2013, two years after independence. That war exposed deep ethnic fault lines, pitting the Dinka supporters of Kiir against the Nuer followers of Machar.
What can the global community do? The rival parties must remove military objectives from civilian areas and work with the UN Mission in South Sudan to provide civilians with safe passage out of frontline areas.
An global body, the JMEC, has been set up to monitor the ceasefire and peace deal implementation and it is chaired by Festus Mogae, a former president of Botswana.