December 18, 2013 (LONDON) – South Sudan’s former vice president, Riek Machar, has categorically denied any involvement in an alleged coup attempt in the capital, Juba, saying it was another undemocratic attempt by president Salva Kiir to get rid of his political critics in the party and government.
- Former South Sudan vice-president Riek Machar speaks at a press conference on 26 July, announcing his intention to run for the presidency in 2015 (Photo: AP/Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin)
Speaking exclusively to Sudan Tribune for the first time since violence erupted on Sunday, Machar said the events were a misunderstanding between the presidential guards.
“There was no coup. What took place in Juba was a misunderstanding between presidential guards within their division. It was not a coup attempt. I have no connection with or knowledge of any coup attempt”, said Machar.
He claimed that no official from the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) had any connection with the alleged coup.
At a press conference held on Monday, Kiir accused Machar of involvement in Sunday’s attack on a military base in Juba.
Unusually clad in full military attire, the president said a group of soldiers allied to Machar and his group attacked the army (SPLA) headquarters near Juba University.
“These attacks continued until this morning” (Monday), added Kiir, flanked by his deputy, James Wani Igga, and defence minister Koul Manyang Juuk.
The South Sudanese leader described Machar as a “prophet of doom [who] continues to persistently pursue his actions of the past”, referring to the 1991 split in which the latter defected from the then rebel movement during its long civil war with Sudan.
“However, I would like to inform you, at the outset, that your government is in full control of the security situation in Juba”, the president said.
He also maintained that the SPLM is fully committed to the peaceful and democratic transfer of power, vowing not to allow political power to be transferred through violence.
CALLS FOR REFORM
However, the former vice-president insists Kiir is simply looking for a way to falsely accuse his detractors in order to frustrate the democratic processes, which Machar and his group has persistently been calling for within the party.
Machar told Sudan Tribune that Kiir was continuing to violate the constitution and was “no longer a legal president”.
“What we wanted was to democratically transform the SPLM, but Salva Kiir wanted to use the alleged coup attempt in order to get rid of us to control the government and the SPLM. We don’t want him the president of South Sudan anymore”, he said, without elaborating further on his next move.
Machar claims that he and a number of his colleagues, who have been detained in connection with the alleged coup plot, are being unfairly victimised.
Machar also condemned Kiir’s actions for encouraging or condoning the recent massacres targeting one ethnic group in the nation’s capital in the last three days.
On Tuesday, the government announced it was seeking the arrest of Machar and other officials, including suspended SPLM secretary-general Pagan Amum, former Unity governor Taban Deng, as well as former ministers Alfred Lado Gore and Adwok Nyaba.
At least 10 South Sudanese officials, mainly ex-ministers, have been arrested in connection with what the government described a failed “coup attempt” in the capital.