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Obama warns that South Sudan fighting could bring back “dark days”

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December 19, 2013 (WASHINGTON) – The United States president Barack Obama issued a statement on Thursday night warning against a grim scenario that could unfold in South Sudan as a result of the ongoing fighting in several states of the world’s newest country.

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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the economy at an event hosted by the Center for American Progress in Washington December 4, 2013 (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

What began as clashes between different units of South Sudan’s presidential guard in Juba last Sunday, spread to other key places including the states of Jonglei and Unity.

South Sudan president Salva Kiir appeared on Monday to accuse his former deputy Riek Machar and other leading ex-officials of staging a failed coup attempt.

The government arrested ten former ministers and issued an arrest warrant for Machar, former ruling party Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) Secretary General Pagan Amum and ex-governor of Unity state Taban Deng among others.

Machar denied plotting a coup and accused Kiir of using the clashes to get rid of his political opponents. He also rejected Kiir’s offer to sit down for talks unless the latter agrees to step down first.

Observers say that the clashes are becoming increasingly tribal in nature with Nuer SPLA units defecting in show of support to Machar and attacking Dinka troops that are generally supportive of Kiir.

On Wednesday, the SPLA announced that it lost control of Jonglei state capital of Bor after forces loyal to General Peter Gatdet Yak overran military bases the day before.

Heavy fighting broke out also in Unity state capital of Bentiu but it is unclear who is in control amid conflicting accounts.

The United Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said yesterday that tens of thousands of civilians have sought refuge at their bases in Juba, Bor and Bentiu.

Juba put the death toll at 500 but it is likely that it will be revised higher. The Indian ambassador at the UN said that three of its peacekeepers were killed in Jonglei.

The US has advised its citizens to depart South Sudan immediately and suspended operations at its embassy in Juba. Three planes were sent to evacuate its personnel and private citizens.

In his statement today, Obama reminded the Southern Sudanese of the sacrifices they made to establish their new country.

“In 2011, millions of South Sudanese voted to forge a new nation, founded on the promise of a more peaceful and prosperous future for all of South Sudan’s people. In recent years, against great odds, South Sudan has made great progress toward breaking the cycle of violence that characterized much of its history”.

“Today, that future is at risk. South Sudan stands at the precipice. Recent fighting threatens to plunge South Sudan back into the dark days of its past”.

Obama said that South Sudan “has a choice”.

“Its leaders can end the violence and work to resolve tensions peacefully and democratically. Fighting to settle political scores or to destabilize the government must stop immediately. Inflammatory rhetoric and targeted violence must cease. All sides must listen to the wise counsel of their neighbors, commit to dialogue and take immediate steps to urge calm and support reconciliation. South Sudan’s leaders must recognize that compromise with one’s political enemy is difficult; but recovering from unchecked violence and unleashed hatred will prove much harder”

“Too much blood has been spilled and too many lives have been lost to allow South Sudan’s moment of hope and opportunity to slip from its grasp. Now is the time for South Sudan’s leaders to show courage and leadership, to reaffirm their commitment to peace, to unity, and to a better future for their people. The United States will remain a steady partner of the South Sudanese people as they seek the security and prosperity they deserve”.

On Wednesday the UN Security Council (UNSC) urged all parties "to immediately cease hostilities, exercise restraint and refrain from violence and other actions that could exacerbate tensions".

They also called on Juba to engage in dialogue with its opponents and to resolve differences peacefully in order to prevent any spread of the current violence.

(ST)

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  • 20 December 2013 05:44, by Kenyan the cushite

    True mr president. what i dont understand is what do people in south sudan and people here commenting expect to gain from tribla fighting. SS is for every tribe in SS. do u guys think by killing u will develop? will killing innocent civilians remove riir? riek should be arrested for the killings and starvation of 30 thousand civilians. who will invest ina country where people are randomly killed?

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    • 20 December 2013 06:40, by Tong dut

      OH,DON’T PLAY WITH DINKAS, SOON THEY ARE GOING TO KILL AMERICANS, NOT INDIAN PEACE KEEPERS.

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      • 20 December 2013 11:19, by SPLA

        I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU! HAVE YOU EVER STEPPED IN A CLASSROOM? YOUR REASONING IS INDICATIVE OF YOUR BACKWARDNESS AND PRIMITIVITY. GO BACK TO SCHOOL OR HEAD TO THE KRAAL.

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      • 21 December 2013 04:34, by Bentiu son

        Dut Tong,don’t lie which Dinkas you guys have got no gut to face Nuer in war fields but only use cowardice tactic of killings innocent civilians like that in Juba. Wait the real war is almost knocking your doors either in Juba or in BEG. Look your cowardice,Salva brought mercenaries from Uganda to defend his painful regime from mighty Nuer warriors but we have reached the gear of no return.Whether

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        • 21 December 2013 04:43, by Bentiu son

          your incompetent Salva Kiir bring whoever wouldn’t stop us from fight his brutal regime till it collapse. Salva Kiir say his tribal will get rid of Nuer why shamefully bring aliens for help if you are not womanizer who fear Dr Machar to death.It is obvious that Yoweri Museveni has got deadly hands in South Sudan affairs.He brought his militias to protect his puppet Kiir from mighty Nuer warriors.

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          • 21 December 2013 04:59, by Bentiu son

            What a conspiracy against Nuer? Obama administration,UN Security Council n IGADD regional body should question Yoweri Museveni for interfered in South Sudan affairs illegally n directly.Cowards/Jeenge baaw!I do tell you that,waging tribal war against Nuer warrior is not easy as stealing our country resources.Dinka have no gut to face angry Nuer in war field lol but who cares about those mercenarie

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      • 21 December 2013 06:05, by Bak Akec

        The Nuer youths attacked the UN compound, not dinka youth.

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    • 20 December 2013 09:05, by Mayom County Boy

      we need peace in our country south sudan
      because if no peace in the country there will be
      no good relation among south sudanese citizens in the country
      let all our leaders accept what was been said by USA president
      Obama

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    • 20 December 2013 10:13, by John The President

      I am totally depressed. Civilians are being targeted, its pain me so much, they started and in the end they will resolve their differences through dialogues, dines together. The death of one South Sudanese to me is the equivalents to the death of a Thousand, none of these idiots pay no respect for human life, people who have suffered for decades, they were optimistic having scarified everything fo

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      • 20 December 2013 10:25, by John The President

        —for their freedom. I call on all of you if anyone has ears, refrain from robbing our of those innocent civilians, our history is full of artociticities not only committed by our common enemies but also by some of us due to greed. Halt your barbaric act a giant civilian. And to you here on the internet, you have just deviated from nationalism into artchect and agents of death, your comments

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      • 20 December 2013 10:25, by John The President

        —for their freedom. I call on all of you if anyone has ears, refrain from robbing our of those innocent civilians, our history is full of artociticities not only committed by our common enemies but also by some of us due to greed. Halt your barbaric act a giant civilian. And to you here on the internet, you have just deviated from nationalism into artchect and agents of death, your comments

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        • 20 December 2013 10:34, by John The President

          — Instead of being proud of our diversities reach with cultures that are rarely found on this planet, you foolishly support the killing of innocent civilians who have nothing these politician offers to them. I wish God could come down this night and eliminate these wrong elements who are blood thirsty. Risk should respond to the dialogues as soon as possible if he really has what it take to lead.

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      • 20 December 2013 13:45, by Hardlinner

        You are right john. These thieves politicians benefit most from people who do not know their individual rights. There are certainly too many unreasonables in ss. The big idiot of all is mr gadet who never get tire of defection.

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  • 20 December 2013 05:54, by Kenyan the cushite

    so SS are killing each other and destroying the country because some speak with a diffrent language? this only makes africa look like were back in the stone age? killing innocent civilians helps no one it just digs the country int a hole. goodluck to all. remember you cant build a country when everyones dead

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    • 20 December 2013 06:07, by Tutbol

      The cloned Obama should just shut his damn mouth up. He is not even a US president, but a corporation president. His alleged 45 soldiers send to S Sudan to protect the US should be taken as enemies. Does S Sudan send its troops to Chicago to protect their properties. The US have never seen hate before, but they they will see it in S Sudan...

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      • 20 December 2013 06:13, by Tutbol

        They have been creating these division among S Sudanese communities since 2012. The govt of S Sudan should close down the US & UK embassies, the Europeans & US must be bloody nosed to see how much much we hate their meddling.

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      • 20 December 2013 09:22, by Wicdail

        Tutbol,
        Do you think your foolish and tribal leader (Kirr) will get a way with these crimes against humanity committed by his militia in Juba without punishment? Kirr seems to be willing for peace after murdering 10,000 Nuers civilians in Juba. No peace before stepping down fool.

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        • 20 December 2013 13:52, by Hardlinner

          Wicdail, who is idiot between some making up numbers and someone telling his finding?.

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        • 20 December 2013 22:41, by Maguangdit

          You ask for 10,000 Nuer killed and it will be given. Don`t worry. I know some Arabs are on this Website to play a tribal card and fuel up a problem but Nuer have also misunderstood it, even Nuer Community of North America could even call for genocide. This madness must or will Stop! There is a cure for it.

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  • 20 December 2013 06:02, by Akook

    It is hard to sit and agree with one’s political opponents but it’s even bitterly harder for people to recover from unchecked violent and unleashed hatred. No Obama .. this is not Western world where people weight benefits! They are African and so selfish to not care of their people. They care only of their powers!

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  • 20 December 2013 06:28, by dude

    President Salva Kiir should be taking to court for killing 700 Nuer civilians in Juba. He has lost our trust. We do not trust him anymore because he is a Liar. He wants to be a dictator that his why he was looking for excuse to silence his critics.

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    • 20 December 2013 12:31, by Mapuor

      We should also come to our senses and stop barbaric killings that are taking place in Bor and unity state.Tribalism will only aggravate things.Dr Riek will never rule this land,mark my word,innocent Dinkas from Bor that even sympathized with him are now his first victims.What a mad dog.Gadet must die this week.

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    • 20 December 2013 22:12, by Maguangdit

      "The unrest has pitted gangs from the Nuer ethnic group of Mr Machar against Dinkas - the majority group to which Mr Kiir belongs"
      BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25469736

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  • 20 December 2013 06:28, by dude

    President Salva Kiir should be taking to court for killing 7000 Nuer civilians in Juba. He has lost our trust. We do not trust him anymore because he is a Liar. He wants to be a dictator that his why he was looking for excuse to silence his critics.

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  • 20 December 2013 06:28, by dude

    President Salva Kiir should be taking to court for killing 7000 Nuer civilians in Juba. He has lost our trust. We do not trust him anymore because he is a Liar. He wants to be a dictator that his why he was looking for excuse to silence his critics.

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  • 20 December 2013 06:29, by dude

    President Salva Kiir should be taking to court for killing 7000 Nuer civilians in Juba. He has lost our trust. We do not trust him anymore because he is a Liar. He wants to be a dictator that his why he was looking for excuse to silence his critics.

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    • 20 December 2013 18:29, by Beny yomnhoi

      you Nuer do not have sense of understanding why do exaggerated to 700 instead of 500 which is the sum of all Nuers and Dinkas who die in Sunday night violence.Kiir is not the one to go to court but damp Riak should face justice first who attempt coup even his leadership arrangement were found that why he reject peaceful dialogue and i do not whom he is going to defeat when some other nuer communit

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      • 20 December 2013 18:37, by Beny yomnhoi

        other Nuer community are not interested in tribal violence because it is senseless.it is time for development not for tribalism.Dr Riak has been encouraging tribalism but he fail all along his deadly planning.such a human can not lead us because unity is strength but if we fight about our self what about common enemy Jalaby? could Nuer who border them fight alone without Dinka contribution? No!

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        • 20 December 2013 18:46, by Beny yomnhoi

          those who are enemies to Dinkas are fool and lacking optimistic of reasoning,without Dinkas civil war with could not be achieved and Dr.Riak rebel during struggle but with supernature of Dinkas they care two cross and until we New nation now,it is because of Dinkas struggle otherwise with fool decision of Riak our nation could be call SS,he would have surrender to Sudan as he usually do it

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          • 20 December 2013 18:51, by Beny yomnhoi

            my last comment to Nuer community is to take courage and think of how we can develop South Sudan and forget Riak Plan which can lead us to zero work.21 years in struggle are enought we do not want division for our self.let unit for SS and not Dinka Vs Nuer let Riak carry his cross and we learn with our ear without in any more interference in conflict.

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  • 20 December 2013 06:30, by dude

    President Salva Kiir should be taking to court for killing 7000 Nuer civilians in Juba. He has lost our trust. We do not trust him anymore because he is a Liar. He wants to be a dictator that his why he was looking for excuse to silence his critics.

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  • 20 December 2013 06:30, by dude

    President Salva Kiir should be taking to court for killing 700 Nuer civilians in Juba. He has lost our trust. We do not trust him anymore because he is a Liar. He wants to be a dictator that his why he was looking for excuse to silence his critics.

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  • 20 December 2013 06:34, by dude

    I have lost my relatives and friends in that massacred in Juba. The president Salva Kiir ordered his presidential guards who were from his tribe to kill anyone who was suspected from Nuer and they did. They Killed 7000 innocent Nuer by singing war songs in Dinka language. The president was singing in Dinka Language to kill the Nuer and that is why the genocide of innocent Nuer lives were lost.

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  • 20 December 2013 06:35, by dude

    I have lost my relatives and friends in that massacred in Juba. The president Salva Kiir ordered his presidential guards who were from his tribe to kill anyone who was suspected from Nuer and they did. They Killed 7000 innocent Nuer by singing war songs in Dinka language. The president was singing in Dinka Language to kill the Nuer and that is why the genocide of innocent Nuer lives were lost.

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  • 20 December 2013 06:35, by dude

    I have lost my relatives and friends in that massacred in Juba. The president Salva Kiir ordered his presidential guards who were from his tribe to kill anyone who was suspected from Nuer and they did. They Killed 7000 innocent Nuer by singing war songs in Dinka language. The president was singing in Dinka Language to kill the Nuer and that is why the genocide of innocent Nuer lives were lost.

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  • 20 December 2013 06:36, by dude

    I have lost my relatives and friends in that massacred in Juba. The president Salva Kiir ordered his presidential guards who were from his tribe to kill anyone who was suspected from Nuer and they did. They Killed 7000 innocent Nuer by singing war songs in Dinka language. The president was singing in Dinka Language to kill the Nuer and that is why the genocide of innocent Nuer lives were lost.

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  • 20 December 2013 06:36, by dude

    I have lost my relatives and friends in that massacred in Juba. The president Salva Kiir ordered his presidential guards who were from his tribe to kill anyone who was suspected from Nuer and they did. They Killed 7000 innocent Nuer by singing war songs in Dinka language. The president was singing in Dinka Language to kill the Nuer and that is why the genocide of innocent Nuer lives were lost.

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    • 20 December 2013 15:26, by dengdanger

      i think this guy Name Dude is running crazy ahahhaahhhh nobody kill 7000 people i think u are crazy u need to be checked up .. looks like some of NUER are running mad and it not over yet........ you started you pay mother fucker.... poeple somebody check Dude out before he kill himself ahahahhahahahahhahhahhahahhh

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  • 20 December 2013 06:47, by Ayuiu Makuac Lam

    Dear president Obama
    the on going destruction of the country is not base on tribals concerned but Riak Machar grow it into that term. President Kiir is elected president with 98% votes, how come for Dr. Riak to force electe president, Dear president, this current situation run by Riak is totally gennocide compare to 1991 gennocide created by rebel Riak.

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    • 20 December 2013 07:02, by Rami Tot

      hei stupids this the history
      Not a coup plotted by his opponents, but a presidential order to disarm Nuer soldiers within the presidential guard triggered the mutiny against Salva Kiir that led to the growing chaos in South Sudan, says the former Minister of Higher Education Peter Adwok.
      He has provided a detailed account of how the fighting started leading to the current chaos. In a just publishe

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    • 20 December 2013 10:04, by Adodi Jotuwa

      Is South Sudan belonging to Dinka and Nuer? If YES/NO, why Dr. Defector Riek always claims that his tribe is marginalized, a statement refuted by many Nuers, Dinka and all the other 62 tribes not mentioned here because of the position (Vice President) offered in a golden plate without even paying any political price?

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      • 20 December 2013 10:05, by Adodi Jotuwa

        If all of South Sudanese tribes are to think along tribal lines as Dr. Defector Riek always believes that he’s the father of self-determination and he “must” be the President of the Republic of South Sudan because of oil presence in his State, then which tribe will really be considered fit to rule with or without oil or political support of the other 62 tribes?

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        • 20 December 2013 10:05, by Adodi Jotuwa

          If all of South Sudanese tribes are to think like Dr. Defector Riek that Nuers are warriors and for this reason he “must” assume presidency at any cost (contradicting what the Holy Bible describes Nilotic people) but not Dinka and the other 62 tribes as some, not all, have demonstrated in 1991 but failed both in the bush and in Khartoum in 1997,…..

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          • 20 December 2013 10:08, by Adodi Jotuwa

            then which tribe will really be reduced populationally through perpetrated or competitive killings with or without support of the other 62 tribes? Dinka, Nuers and all the other 62 tribes in South Sudan “should never be misled” by one tribesman whose track record and political ambition is known domestically, regionally and internationally.

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            • 20 December 2013 10:09, by Adodi Jotuwa

              The argument that is based on oil presence in one’s State or claim of being the father of self-determination does not hold water at all without considering first the founders of Anyanya-One that was composed of all Southerners, the achievement/failure of Anyanya-Two and the ultimate achievement of Independence of South Sudan by SPLM/A, not by switching sides/coup d’état.

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              • 20 December 2013 10:10, by Adodi Jotuwa

                If we believe in tribal rivalry that killing innocent civilians or staging coup d’état to assume Presidency at any cost is easy in South Sudan (though we failed to do it in the North Sudan from 1956 – 2011) or switching sides at one’s disposal as Dr. Defector Riek Machar has become addicted to since 1991, has been dreaming of during post-CPA-and-Independence,….

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                • 20 December 2013 10:11, by Adodi Jotuwa

                  …..and will continue dreaming for it is considered a democratic ideal, then I think it is time for us, regardless of what tribe we hail from, to wake up and see ourselves first as united but not divided South Sudanese and second define the word “democracy” in our own version to be able to see through the Presidential candidate’s political track record, ability to judge and deliver effectively with

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                  • 20 December 2013 10:12, by Adodi Jotuwa

                    without putting his/her tribe first.
                    The good thing we have a good number of educated South Sudanese although not all of them are interested in politics for one reason or another. But it is up to us all South Sudanese to blindly/consciously support who has proven strategic track record that he/she will advance South Sudan forward without tribal leanings.

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  • 20 December 2013 06:52, by Peter Puoch Ruot

    Obama need to shut the fuck up and mind his own lying business to American peoples. Nobody will stop the coming of this war regardless nor him or alcoholic Kirr. Like Dr. Riek said "Kirr is illegal president" and shall resign from the presidency or otherwise he will be hang or fire squad on the street of the Juba soon. The Mighty Naath warriors plus the rests are coming for the rescue of Juba city

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    • 20 December 2013 07:04, by Rami Tot

      Adok He has provided a detailed account of how the fighting started leading to the current chaos. In a just published narrative he writes about last Sunday evening 15 December after the meeting of the National Liberation Council had failed.

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    • 20 December 2013 09:40, by Wicdail

      Peter Puoch,
      Who do you respect in your life if you can’t respects Mr. Obama, the president of the United Sates? Instead of telling him to tell Kirr to step down if he need the conflict to stop, you took the wrong turn by insults. Let us not be emotional though, Kirr and his thugs kills our loves ones. They will pay the price.

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  • 20 December 2013 07:05, by Rami Tot

    Adok said
    Even before the closing of the meeting the president told one of the army commanders to disarm his soldiers of the so-called Tiger Battalion: “The information we got is that President Kiir ordered Major General Marial Ciennoung to disarm his soldiers.”

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    • 20 December 2013 07:06, by Rami Tot

      Marial was at the closing session of the NLC. He left the scene immediately and called for a parade of the Tiger Battalion. He briefed the troops and ordered them to surrender their arms. They obeyed and executed the orders and dispersed

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      • 20 December 2013 07:06, by Rami Tot

        “Now in a mischief, the officer in charge of the stores opened the stores and rearmed the Dinka soldiers. A Nuer soldier, who happened to be nearby questioned this. A fistfight ensued between the two attracting the attention both the commander and his deputy to the scene.”

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        • 20 December 2013 07:07, by Rami Tot

          They now could not control the situation as more soldiers came in and broke into the stores. The fight ensued and the Nuer soldiers managed to take control of the headquarters… It was in the morning (Monday) that SPLA reinforcement came in and dislodged the mutineers. This can later be verified and the truth will come out,” Adwok narrates

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          • 20 December 2013 07:08, by Rami Tot

            Adwok explains how the issue became tribal: “Military doctrine dictates that once a contingent of mutinous troops have been dislodged, appeal is made for their surrender and then disarmed. Those who remained loyal (to the president) are also disarmed to prevent bad blood

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            • 20 December 2013 07:09, by Rami Tot

              The loyal troops of Tiger, hailing mainly from Warrap and Aweil, have not been disarmed. In fact, they are the ones rampaging Juba, looting and shooting to kill any Nuer in the residential neighbourhoods,” Adwok claims

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              • 20 December 2013 07:10, by Rami Tot

                The senior and aged politician heard yesterday that he is also on the list of wanted politicians. “This may be my last contribution, because, as I said, I’m waiting for the police in order to join my colleagues in detention

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                • 20 December 2013 07:11, by Rami Tot

                  These accusations have been done purely to discredit individuals capable to lead the party.
                  This trick was realized by Southerners and they were unhappy because Kiir administration trying to alienate SPLM elites and cadres unhappy about President Kiir leadership. All these wrangling within SPLM party was generated by President Kiir leadership style. The president leadership approaches made South S

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  • 20 December 2013 08:50, by hamil

    Where are those countries with several embassies in Juba that promised to stand with us in difficult times? Where is China? You couldn’t even hear any message of condemnation of the violence from any prominent Chinese figure Its apparently clear that they are after our oil only to disappear. To think that 66% of the oil companies in South Sudan are run by Chinese is insane.

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    • 20 December 2013 12:28, by Mapuor

      Dear Hamil
      We should also come to our senses and stop barbaric killings that are taking place in Bor and unity state.Tribalism will only aggravate things.Dr Riek will never rule this land,mark my word,innocent Dinkas from Bor that even sympathized with him are now his first victims.What a mad dog.Gadet must die this week.

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      • 20 December 2013 14:29, by Rami Tot

        the matter is not riek but innocent victims mark my word well kiir is no longer a president that can recognize all tribes in s sudan he is illegal from 15 December 2013 massacre took place.let him go to animal farm let him not waist his time anymore.

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  • 20 December 2013 16:08, by Dengdittueny

    Dear John the president,
    Your comments have impressed me a lot and it shows that you are educated person. There are some tribal comments always from Sudan tribune that have created deep tribal line between Nuer and Dinka that will take us 50 years to remove them. Sudan tribune is a website that has advanced tribalism in South Sudan and I blame Sudan tribune for allowing tribal comments.

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  • 20 December 2013 21:50, by Wani khooto

    dear,
    Nuer will never allow ss to achieved dr machar,look here the are just killing any dinka yet machar had some dinka and other tribe supporting him,i am not a dinka but what machar did reflect 1991 case again.imagine i was in Akobo today and just nueer need to kill only 32 dinka who are living there.can such pple lead our nation guys.sorry machar will never have my support.shame on nuer.wake up

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