December 23, 2013 (JUBA) - The former United States special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan has offered an rare criticism of South Sudanese president Salva Kiir, saying he was responsible for current violence that has engulfed the country.
- Former U.S. special envoy for Sudan Princeton Lyman (Reuters)
Princeton Lyman , in an interview with the BBC on Monday, said Kiir’s reluctance to accept democratic transformation within his ruling party (SPLM) "unfortunately” resulted in the current chaos.
On 15 December, violence erupted between the Presidential Guards of the South Sudanese army in the capital, Juba as sporadic gunfire went throughout the night.
The battle, later spread to other parts of the country, with those loyal to president Kiir up against forces opposed to the current regime.
The South Sudanese leader, however, blames his former deputy, Riek Machar of carrying out a coup attempt, an allegation the latter denies. Machar told Sudan Tribune that the incident was a ploy by Kiir to get rid of those opposed to his leadership style.
Over 500 people were reportedly killed and nearly 60,000 displaced as fighting escalated in Juba and various parts of country’s largest state of Jonglei.
Multiple eyewitnesses and relatives of those killed told Sudan Tribune how the president’s Special Forces; mainly comprising recruits from Warrap and Northern Bahr el Ghazal states, allegedly targeted Nuer ethnic groups in Juba.
In Bor, there have been reports - which have not been independently verified - that members of the Dinka community were summarily executed on the streets, in what has been as the worst form violence since a 2005 peace deal led to independence from Sudan in 2011.
The government has tried to play down the violence.
Speaking to Sudan Tribune on Monday, Machar said plans were underway to deny Juba access to oil revenues, adding that his group would create an extra account to manage the funds.
He further said his group would hijack the implementation of the September 2012 cooperation agreements between Sudan and South Sudan, which focuses on border security, border trade and oil.
Toby Lanzer, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in the South Sudan on Monday expressed concerns over thousands of people affected by the violence of the last week in other parts of the country.
"The situation is particularly bad in Jonglei and Unity states, where fighting has displaced thousands of civilians. I just returned from Bor, where an estimated 17,000 people have sought protection in the UN peacekeeping base", he said in a statement.
While in Bor, Lanzer said he witnessed firsthand the harrowing results of the intense violence that has swept the area.
"I heard heartbreaking accounts of people’s suffering, including tales of children separated from their parents," he noted, adding "Aid workers are also under intense pressure, with humanitarian compounds looted in several locations".
Read all Sudan Tribune’s coverage of the crisis in South Sudan here:
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