South Sudan: Exclusive - South Sudan Ex-VP Denies Coup Attempt, Calls Kiir 'Illegal President'

Photo: Voice of America
South Sudan President Salva Kiir tells reporters that the government is in "full control" after an attempted coup.

London — South Sudan's former vice president, Riek Machar has categorically denied the existence or involvement in the alleged coup attempt in the capital, Juba, saying it was another undemocratic attempt by president Salva Kiir to get rid of his political critics in the party and government.

Speaking exclusively to Sudan Tribune, for the first time since Sunday, Machar said the violence on Sunday in Juba was a mere misunderstanding between the presidential guards.

"There was no coup. What took place in Juba was a misunderstanding between presidential guards within their division. It was not a coup attempt. I have no connection with or knowledge of any coup attempt", said Machar.

No SPLM [Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement] official has connection with the alleged coup, he added.

President Kiir, at a press conference held on Monday, accused Machar of alleged involvement in Sunday's attack on a military base in the country's capital, Juba.

Unusually clad in full military attire, the president said a group of soldiers allied to Machar and his group attacked the army headquarters near Juba University.

"These attacks continued until this morning", added Kiir, flanked by his deputy James Wani Igga and defense minister, Koul Manyang Juuk.

The South Sudanese leader described Machar as a "prophet of doom [who] continues to persistently pursue his actions of the past", making reference to the 1991 split which saw the latter defect from rebel movement during its long civil war with Sudan.

"However, I would like to inform you, at the outset, that your government is in full control of the security situation in Juba", assured the president.

The SPLM is fully committed to the peaceful and democratic transfer of power and will never allow political power to be transferred through violence, he added.

CALLS FOR REFORMS

But the former vice president insisted Kiir was only looking for a way to falsely accuse them in order to frustrate the democratic processes his group was persistently calling for within the country's governing party.

Machar told Sudan Tribune the Kiir was repeatedly violating the constitution and was "no longer a legal president".

"What we wanted was to democratically transform the SPLM. But Salva Kiir wanted to use the alleged coup attempt in order to get rid of us to control the government and the SPLM. We don't want him the president of South Sudan any more," he said, without further explaining his next moves.

He said he and his arrested colleagues were being victimised for no reason.

Machar also condemned Kiir's actions for encouraging or condoning the recent massacres targeting one ethnic group in the nation's capital in the last three days.

On Tuesday, the government in Juba said that it seeking the arrest of Machar and other officials, including suspended SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum, former Unity governor Taban Deng plus ex-ministers Alfred Lado Gore and Adwok Nyaba.

At least 10 South Sudanese officials, mainly ex-ministers, have been arrested in connection with what government says was a failed "coup attempt" in the capital.

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InFocus

Ex-South Sudan VP Machar Denies Coup Attempt

Riek Machar says the violence in Juba was not a coup attempt, but a "misunderstanding between presidential guards within their division". Read more »