December 17, 2013 (TORIT) - South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria has declared a curfew in its state capital Torit in reponse to the on-going violence in Juba, where fighting between members of the presidential guard began on late Sunday evening.
- Clement Laku speaks at a youth dialogue organised by SSYPA in the capital, Torit, December 15, 2013 (ST)
Eastern Equatoria’s minister of information, Clement Laku, called for citizens to be calm and to distance themselves from the developments in Juba, urging them to remain in their homes.
Louis Lobong Lojore, the state governor, said the situation in Juba was now calm.
Those behind the attack, if found, will be tried in the courts of law, he stressed.
Any person who wants power should wait for elections, he said, in reference to the allegation by South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, that his former deputy Riek Machar was behind the attack.
Kiir has described the fighting as a coup attempt but other reports contradict this.
The South Sudanese leader has announced a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Juba, saying justice would prevail on those behind the attack. "The curfew will start from 6pm to 6am local time in Juba", Kiir told reporters on Monday.
While speaking at a press conference in Juba, Kiir, who was clad in full military attire, said “a group of soldiers allied to the former vice-president Dr Riek Machar and his group” attacked the army headquarters near Juba University.
President Kiir described Machar as a "prophet of doom [who] continues to persistently pursue his actions of the past", making reference to the 1991 split in which the ex-vice president defected from the southern-based rebel group during its civil war with Sudan.
The ruling SPLM, Kiir said, "is fully committed to the peaceful and democratic transfer of power and will never allow political power to be transferred through violence."
Sunday’s nights infighting between the president guards came after around 160 senior SPLM politicians, including South Sudan’s 10 state governor’s participated in the ruling party’s controversial National Liberation Council meeting.
South Sudan’s transitional constitution, introduced at independence in July 2011, state’s that all political parties must have their basic documents approved in order to register to take part in the 2015 elections.
Approving the documents has proved troublesome for the ruling party and internal dissent has increased since President Kiir sacked many senior members of his cabinet, including his deputy Riek Machar.
The SPLM’s suspended secretary general Pagan Amum, Machar and many others boycotted the meeting and now, following the clashes in Juba, stand accused of attempting to oust President Kiir’s government.
Speaking at Torit airstrip, Eastern Equatoria governor Louis Lobong Lojore, on his return from attending the key SPLM meeting said that Amum needed to account for losses incurred during his tenure or face the law.
Amum, who has been banned from speaking to the media or travelling outside South Sudan, denies the charges against him.