January 12, 2014 (RUMBEK) - Lawmakers in Lakes state have called on pastoralist youths to avoid engaging in tribal revenge attacks, calling on former vice-president-turned rebel leader Riek Machar Teny to accept a peaceful resolution without conditions to end conflict.
Traditional leaders have warned pastoralist youth in various cattle camps in the state not to get involved in the current political power struggle between incumbent president Salva Kiir Mayardit and Machar.
Traditional leaders also cautioned youths against taking sides or engaging in internal revenge clashes on a tribal basis.
“We must not support Salva Kiir or Riek Machar in this useless stage – we must only support [the] constitution and to protect our dignity and culture as [the] Lakes state community”, said one chief, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He said Lakes state residents had suffered greatly during the more than two-decade-long civil war with the north, but stood ready to protect themselves should they be attacked.
Violence erupted in South Sudan on 15 December after rival members of the Dinka and Nuer tribes in the presidential guards clashed in the capital, Juba.
The conflict has since spread to other regions, dividing along tribal fault lines as government forces and rebel fighters aligned with Machar struggle for control of key areas.
PARLIAMENT BACKS KIIR
Meanwhile, in a statement extended to media on Sunday, the Lakes state parliament strongly condemned the alleged failed coup attempt on 15 December, saying rebel forces had “no regard for life and human suffering”.
Parliamentarians also expressed confidence in the incumbent president to secure the nation and move forward.
They also called on the international community to recognise the events surrounding 15 December as a coup attempt, criticising attempts to exert pressure on the South Sudanese government to release political detainees being held in connection to the alleged plot.
“We also urge the international community to declare the 15 December 2013 fighting which erupted in Juba a coup attempt before pleading with our president elect to release the coup attempt detainees it they mind about lives of innocent South Sudanese being lost in the current conflict”, the statement said in part.
Peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, between government representatives and the rebel delegation stalled last week amid disagreements over the sensitive issue.
Rebels said they won’t sign truce unless all senior political figures are released from detention, while Kiir maintains that detainees must answer the charges in court.
Lawmakers urged Kiir to consider the best interests of the South Sudanese people and not to be dragged into a drawn out political deadlock with Machar-aligned rebels.