Detained SPLM Leaders Call For End To Violence In South Sudan

South Sudan President
South Sudan’s president has expressed his willingness to talk to disgruntled politicians whom he accuses of being behind a coup plot

AFRICANGLOBE – The 11 senior South Sudanese politicians, mainly ex-ministers, detained in connection with the ongoing unrest in the country have called for peaceful dialogue and national reconciliation.

The detainees expressed their desires on Monday upon meeting Donald Booth, the US special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan.

Booth, who had earlier met South Sudan president Salva Kiir, admitted that those detained were “secure and well taken care of”.

“These individuals communicated to me their desire and their readiness to play a constructive role in ending the crisis through peaceful political dialogue and national reconciliation”, the US envoy said in a statement issued Monday.

“I will be following up to see how the government may utilise this constructive position”, he added.

South Sudan has witnessed the worst violence in its post-secession era, with an estimated over 500 people killed over 60,000 displaced in various parts of the country after violence broke out in the capital, Juba on 15 December.

President Kiir largely blames his former deputy Riek Machar orchestrating the clashes. But Machar claims it was a ploy by the government to get rid of those opposed to current leadership.

But Kiir, according to Booth, has expressed willingness for talks with Machar without any preconditions so as to end the current crisis.

IGAD Initiative 

Meanwhile, the US special envoy welcomed the recent political engagement of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in South Sudan, encouraging it to play a key role in engaging government and opposition in to meaningful dialogue.

“The United States emphasizes the urgency of the situation and stands ready to support these efforts as necessary”, said Booth.

Last week, the US secretary of state John Kerry said his country “believes very strongly that all parties should refrain from any actions that could further escalate the tensions”.

“Political differences need to be resolved by peaceful and democratic means, and those have been hard fought for. The government should respect the rule of law, and the people of South Sudan should be able to realise their full potential in peace”, Kerry told reporters.

In Other News:

South Sudan’s army recaptured Bor, the capital of Jonglei state on Tuesday which was seized by forces loyal to Maj-Gen Peter Gadet last week, the military’s spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Philip Aguer described the South Sudanese army’s (SPLA) mission to Jonglei as a “rescue assault” in order to free the thousands of people who have been forced to flee the area or seek hostage inside the UN base there.

Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, has been occupied by forces loyal to Gadet since Wednesday. Gadet was a commander in charge of the SPLA’s 8th Division in Jonglei state, which was is tasked with fighting a rebellion in the Jonglei’s Pibor county.

It is reportedly that Gadet broke away from the national army because of allegations that members of his ethnic group, the Nuer, were targetted in during fighting in Juba at the beginning of last week.

The government claimed that former Vice President Riek Machar, tried to stage a coup to oust President Kiir, in collaboration with 12 other senior figures from the ruling SPLM who have become critical of Kiir’s leadership.

Most of those politicians, who are from a range of ethnic groups, are being detained in Juba, where the security situation has stabilised.

The commander of the fourth division in Unity state, James Koang, defected on Friday after claiming the army had ordered for him to be killed. On Saturday he announced he was the new governor of the state, but Aguer said that the SPLA was “confident we will retake Unity state within hours.”

There have also been reports of fighting in Upper Nile state, which like Unity hosts South Sudan’s oil fields.