March 9, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The South Sudanese rebels led by the former vice president, Riek Machar, have accused president Salva Kiir’s government of alleged targeted killing of Nuer chiefs in areas under their control.
- Former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar, along with two other senior political figures, are to be stripped of their membership to South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (Photo: Getty Images)
“We have been receiving disturbing reports that Nuer chiefs in Unity state are being targeted, executed by the forces loyal to President Salva Kiir. We condemn this barbaric act and should stop,” Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
Government’s troops, he claimed, were carrying out systematic killings of the traditional leaders who were allegedly being hunted door-to-door in Leer county, home of the rebel leader.
Similar incidents, he said, also occurred last month in Panyijiar county of Unity state, when two famous chiefs were reportedly gunned down by the forces of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) that are loyal to president Salva Kiir.
However, Dak further explained that the recent killings occurred in Gou Payam of Leer county where two chiefs were allegedly arrested from their houses and executed.
“Deputy Executive Chief, Nhial Chakuoth Malek and sub-chief, Machek Ninrew Lieh, were arrested from their houses in Gou Payam on 1st March and later on executed without charges,” he said.
He further said Gatjang Gai Machar, a leading trader along with six others, including a lady were arrested and separately executed in the area during the last two weeks.
“Salva Kiir’s forces act barbarically out of mere hatred and humiliation of the community from which Dr. Riek Machar hails,” Dak said.
“Their intention is to try to create great panic and destroy the fabric that holds together members of the Leer community as the chiefs were very instrumental in keeping peace and harmony not only within the community but also with the other neighbouring communities,” he further charged.
He also claimed that since recapturing Leer from the rebels last month, government forces have been terrorising the area, displacing the populations mainly women and children into the bushes with “resultant humanitarian disaster.”
"The government’s soldiers have also been torching houses in total destruction of the community," he added.
Dak said the international community should condemn what he described as a “genocidal mission against one ethnic group by the government of Salva Kiir, and to bring to justice those responsible for the crimes.”
The nearly three-month old violence erupted on 15 December in the national capital, Juba, when President Kiir, from the ruling Dinka ethnic group, attempted to disarm troops of the presidential guards from Machar’s Nuer ethnic group, his rival, prompting resistance and consequent violence.
Machar and his colleagues, who challenged Kiir in the ruling party (SPLM), alleged that Kiir’s action was to intimidate his political opponents or arrest them if he succeeded in disarming the force, which was largely composed of the two ethnicities.
They also accused Kiir of forming a private army strictly from his ethnic group, which largely carried out the massacres in Juba following the conflict outbreak.
The South Sudanese leader, however, asserted publicly that he was responding to a coup allegedly plotted by Machar and colleagues, which the ex-vice-president denies.
Hundreds of Nuer civilians were killed in cold blood in Juba days following the 15 December violence, followed by revenge killings of Dinka members in other areas, in what has developed into tribal conflict pitting the Dinka, the largest ethnic group and their allies against the Nuer, the second largest.