JUBA, South Sudan (CNN) — Government officials have convinced an ethnic militia loyal to former south Sudanese Vice President Riek Machar to retreat from Bor, Rachel Nyedak Paul, the deputy information minister in Juba, told CNN on Monday.
An estimated 20,000 ethnic Nuer from the so-called White Army had been headed for the city, raising fears of more violence.
Paul told CNN that she and other officials who are Nuer and originally from the North Jonglei province -- the same area where the White Army originated -- had a series of phone conversation with leaders of White Army on Monday.
They told the leaders the current crisis was a political and not a tribal battle and told them them to not get involved.
The youths in the White Army are known for the white powder they use to cover their skin as an insect repellant.
Machar is a longtime rival of President Salva Kiir. The men are from two different tribal clans. Kiir is from the Dinka tribe, Machar from the Nuer.
Kiir accused Machar of trying to stage a coup. Machar has denied it.
Fighting broke out between Kiir's government and supporters of Machar on December 15 in the capital city of Juba. It quickly spread across the country, with reports of mass killings lent credence by mass graves.