February 6, 2014 (KAMPALA/JUBA) – The spokesperson for the rebel leader Riek Machar has described as “outrageous lies” the latest statements from the government which he said “fabricated” evidences of a coup plot by the rebel leader ahead of 15 December violence in the country.
Ateny Wek Ateny, spokesperson for South Sudanese president Salva Kiir on Thursday briefed the media at the ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, in which he said Machar announced publicly over the radio that he would take over the government in a military coup by 16 December 2013.
“It was a coup after Machar declaring on the radio that he was going to take over Juba by the evening of December 16, and no doubt about that,” Ateny told journalists in Kampala on Thursday.
He further accused the western world of not believing the story told by the government about the alleged attempted coup, saying such stance by the western governments was absurd.
“What happened in our country was a coup and it’s absurd for the west to term it otherwise,” he said in his statements published by various Ugandan media.
Reacting to the allegations in a statement seen by Sudan Tribune, Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, said "the message was full of lies and also amounted to further violations of the cessation of hostilities agreements" signed in Addis Ababa on 23 January which asked the two parties to refrain from such baseless media propaganda.
"Where on earth can a purported coup plotter openly declare on a public radio that he would stage a military coup to overthrow the government on a given date? Isn’t that a fantasy by Ateny?" Dak said.
He added that the president’s spokesperson also failed to tell “his Kampala audience” which radio station in South Sudan did Machar make the announcement over about the alleged pending coup.
Dak, however, admitted that the statements in the aftermath of the 15 December violence called for the removal of Kiir’s leadership by all means but added that there was never a militant tone uttered by the current rebel leadership before the violence.
The presidential spokesperson also told journalists in Kampala that the violence was not along tribal lines fitting Dinka against the Nuer, Dak agreed with him but held the government responsible for the ethnic violence.
"Yes the internal differences within the SPLM leadership were not along tribal lines. President Salva Kiir is leading the responsibility for the ensued ethnic dimension of the violence in South Sudan because he ordered for disarmament of members of the Nuer in his presidential guards on 15 December 2013 which sparked serious suspicions, disagreements and violence within the force,” he said.
He said Kiir’s presidential guards, predominantly Dinka from his region of Bahr el Ghazal, went on door-to-door the next day, targeting and killing innocent Nuer civilians in Juba, which he said developed the ethnic dimension of the conflict between the Dinka and the Nuer.
Dak also criticised the message Ateny told to the Ugandans in Kampala that the current war with the rebels in South Sudan is "a war against Uganda".
"It is unfortunate that the government is telling Ugandans that the war in South Sudan is a war against Uganda. When did the internal political party differences and conflict in an independent Republic of South Sudan become a war against Uganda?" he said.
The rebel leader’s spokesperson, however, said the SPLM/A In Opposition bears no grudges against the people of Uganda, saying they had been dragged into a senseless war by their leader, and cautioning them not to listen to the propaganda coming from war-mongering authorities in Kampala and Juba.