December 28, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s vice-president, James Wani Igga, expressed concern on Saturday over the lack of international condemnation for the failed coup attempt the government alleges occurred on 15 December in the capital, Juba.
- South Sudan’s vice-pesident, James Wani Igga, speaks at the opening of the SPLM building in Juba on 15 November 2013 (Photo: Larco Lomayat)
“I don’t know why the international community is not condemning this coup”, Wani said.
Those accused of being behind alleged coup, including former vice-president Riek Machar and 12 others from South Sudan’s ruling party (SPLM), have dismissed the allegations. Many accounts of the evening of 15 December allege that the fighting broke out among rival factions of the presidential guard unit within South Sudan’s army (SPLA).
According to the former minister of education, Peter Adwok, the fighting was triggered when soldiers from the Nuer tribe realised that their Dinka colleagues were being rearmed after the entire unit was disarmed earlier in the day, when a tense meeting had been held between senior members of the SPLM.
Eleven of the 13 SPLM figures accused of masterminding the coup have been in custody since 17 December, while Machar and former Unity state governor Taban Deng have fled Juba.
Reports that members of the Nuer ethnic group were targeted in Juba in the days after president Salva Kiir declared that the infighting had been a coup attempt led to reprisal attacks in other parts of the country.
Jonglei state fell to soldiers who defected from army ranks, although the state capital, Bor, and other areas have since been retaken by forces loyal to the government. The SPLA is now trying to retake Unity state, after the commander of the army’s division there also defected.
Regional leaders have been trying to negotiate an end to the fighting, which the United Nations says has killed over 1,000 people.
Speaking at a press conference in Juba, Wani, who replaced Machar earlier this year following a major cabinet reshuffle, says his government is ready for dialogue and the cessation of hostilities.
Machar, who is now heading the rebellion, said on Friday that Ugandan fighter jets had bombed the positions of his forces in Jonglei state.
However, the former vice-president says he is willing to take part in regionally supported peace talks with president Kiir, on the condition that his alleged co-conspirators are released.
Kiir said he is open to talks so long as they are without preconditions. On Friday, two detainees were released and Wani said that the government is ready to release further political detainees as it waits to kick-start dialogue.
“This is not an SPLM problem anymore, it is a national crisis that started as a coup by power thirsty Dr Riek Machar”, Wani said.
Machar and his supporters say that Kiir used the army infighting as a pretext to silence political critics.
Read all Sudan Tribune’s coverage of the crisis in South Sudan here:
The latest tweets on the crisis in South Sudan: