19 December 2013

South Sudan: Kiir Says Ready for Dialogue With Machar

Photo: George Mindruta/UN
Civilians arriving at the UN House compound in the southwestern outskirts of Juba, seeking protection from recent fighting in the capital.

Juba — The South Sudanese President Salva Kiir is ready for dialogue with his former deputy, Riek Machar whom he accused of masterminding Sunday's coup attempt in the capital, Juba.

South Sudan president Salva Kiir addresses a news conference at the presidential palace in Juba December 16, 2013 (Reuters/Hakim George)

"We are open for dialogue with anyone who is willing," Kiir told reporters in Juba, adding, raising hope for peaceful resolution to the volatile situation.

The president, on Monday, blamed the skirmishes on forces allegedly loyal Machar, which the latter denied in an exclusive interview with Sudan Tribune.

"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.

He claimed that no official from the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) had any connection with the alleged coup.

The United Nations Secretary General, in a phone interview with Kiir, expressed deep concerns about the current situation in South Sudan

"I spoke to President Salva Kiir yesterday morning, urging him to do everything possible he can to end the violence and to ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law", Ban Ki Moon said in a statement.

"Am impressed on him the need to resume dialogue with the political opposition", he added, in reference to reports that Kiir was willing to talk with his opponents.

Hilde Johnson, the special representative of the Secretary General also called for urgent political dialogue in the country.

"This is a political crisis, and urgently needs to be dealt with through political dialogue. There is a risk of this violence spreading to other states, and we have already seen some signs of this," she said.

It is essential to protect the human rights of all those who are detained, Johnson stressed in a statement.

The UN Mission in South Sudan said it has received reports of many people being killed and injured, with nearly 20,000 people reportedly displaced.

"We are in the process of verifying the reports", the UN said, raising possible fears of more displaced people in its Jonglei state.

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