16 December 2013

Sudan: Salva Kiir Blaming Troops Loyal to Machar for Fighting Juba

Photo: Tim McKulka/UN Photo
Soldiers of the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) .

Juba — President Salva Kiir says troops loyal to his former vice president Riek Machar are behind a coup last night in South Sudan. But Riek Machar has denied any involvement to Radio Tamazuj. He is still in Juba. At 14:00 local time fightings were continuing near Juba University and Market 107 near Bilpam. Security troops of SPLA are chasing some other SPLA soldiers 2 kilometers away from the headquarters. People have reported seeing dead bodies all over the road near the Juba University.

Salva Kiir has announced this morning a curfew for the entire population of Juba after fighting broke out last night within the SPLA headquarters in Juba. The president appeared in a recorded message on TV surrounded by his defense minister and the minister of foreign affairs.

As confirmed o Radio Dabanga by several people, the first fighting started in the Juba Military hospital near the old barracks of the SPLA. A Dinka soldier of Kiirs tribe had an argument with a Nuer soldier of Machars tribe. The fighting escalated further with others getting involved. The tension, already existing after the failed National Liberation Council meeting last Saturday, grew into armed battle within the barracks, using mortars and machine guns.

The spokesman of Riek Machar told Radio Tamazuj that Machar has nothing to do with the fighting. Rumors that Machar went to the US embassy for refuge or was arrested was fiercely denied. When speaking to Radio Dabanga Riek Machar was not arrested. Neither was the fired Secretary General of the SPLM, Pagan Amum. Pagan mum told that he was not allowed to attend the National Liberal Council, the highest political forum of the SPLM. He calls it a total violation of the constitution of the SPLM. Riek Machar dismissed himself from the meetings on Saturday angered by the lack of understanding by Salva Kiir for the need for democratic reform. He accused the president for 'dictatorial tendencies'.

The problems arose form a failed meeting of the SPLM leadership last weekend. National Liberation Council was supposed to seek solutions for the severe political tensions between Salva Kiir and his former vice president Rik Machar. He is leading a group of people that includes the former secretary general of the SPLM, Pagan Amum and the wife of the former leader of John Garang. Some

The SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer told this morning on the national radio people to stay inside their compounds. He is expecting a public statement by president Salva Kiir soon today. All inhabitants have ordered people to go back into their compounds.

The first shootings started last night just before ten in the old military headquarter Souq Sitta. The firing continued for at least an hour. After 2330 sustained and heavy fire was heard emanating from the former Joint Integrated Unit/GHQ building near Nyakuron Cultural Centre. Nearly the same time fighting started throughout Juba including Bilpam, the new SPLA Headquarters and barracks, it is located between Jebel Market and North Nyakuron near the UN House.

Just before 3:00 o'clock Radio Tamazuj noticed a break in the fighting but after 6:30 (Monday morning) fighting resumed in the Nyakuron area. Half an hour later the fighting also stated again in Bilpam. Witnesses saw the use of HMG used for air defense) and mortars. As a result of this insecurity approximately 300 civilians have sought refuge in UN House.

Another 500-600 civilians have come into the UN camp in Tomping near the airport. The UNMISS head, Hilde Johnson expressed her deep concerns and asks for restraint of violence. She said she had talked to President Salva Kiir Mayardit and to Riek Machar, Deputy Chairman of the SPLM, and called on both of them to call for restraint, as well as the Defence Minister, the Minister of National Security and the Foreign Minister.

Hundreds seek shelter at UNMISS

UNMISS has confirmed that around midday hundreds of civilians have been seeking refuge in the UNMISS compound adjacent to the international airport and at UN House in the Jebel Kujur area, a large number being women and children. "While UNMISS is not a humanitarian operator, and our mandate is to protect civilians, basic water supplies and medical treatment are being provided. We hope the security situation in Juba will quickly normalize to enable the civilians to return very soon to their residential areas. To that end, UNMISS it told Radio Tamazuj.

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