South Sudan rebels not ready for truce

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar wants proper negotiations before calling it a truce.

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar wants proper negotiations before calling it a truce. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

PRETORIA - South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar says there must be proper negotiations before the rebels can agree to a truce with the government.

He was speaking after the government said it had agreed to an immediate end to fighting in a declaration welcomed by East African leaders in Nairobi.

Meanwhile, the first United Nations (UN) reinforcements have arrived in the oil town of Malakal to help control civilians seeking shelter at UN compounds.

At least 1,000 people have died in the fighting.

The rebels' refusal to declare a truce disappointed East African leaders who met in Nairobi on Friday and heard South Sudanese President Salva Kiir pledge unconditionally to lay down arms.

The first UN reinforcements have arrived to help control civilians seeking shelter at UN compounds.

About 63,000 people have turned to the UN for help while 1,000 have died in the fighting.

Kiir is engaged in a deadly power struggle with Machar, his former vice president, since accusing him of a coup attempt.

Members of Kiir's Dinka ethnic group and Machar's Nuer community have both been targeted.