26 January 2014

South Sudan: Rebecca Nyandeng Blames President Kiir Over Violence

South Sudan's government and rebels on Thursday signed a ceasefire agreement, pledging to halt fighting within 24 hours and end five weeks of bitter ... ( Resource: Rebels and Government in South Sudan Sign Ceasefire

Juba — Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, the widow of late John Garang de Mabior, has reiterated her accusation against the South Sudanese president Salva Kiir whom she says started the violence that nearly plunged the new nation into war.

She said Kiir's refusal to allow internal reform in the country's ruling Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) and his subsequent decisions to disarm the Nuer soldiers from his presidential guards, triggered the 15 December violence.

Nyandeng on Friday further told the London Evening Post that Kiir had illegally trained private army of 15,000 men from his tribe, which he used to start the violence in the South Sudanese capital, Juba.

She said the violence was planned by Kiir, who chairs the SPLM and his group when the former vice-president and party deputy chairman, Riek Machar, and his colleagues, herself included, declined to attend a second day of the National Liberation Council (NLC) meeting because of Kiir's "divisive and non-reconciliatory" speech during the opening of the meeting, a day before.

"They [Kiir's group] may have thought that these people did not come to the meeting and so they were maybe planning a coup. So they made a decision that these people would be arrested. Some of them said they would try to make something so they could accuse these people of planning a coup and arrest them. This is what happened," Nyandeng told the London-based publication.

It was then, she added, that President Kiir and his group began to implement the plan to disarm the Nuer elements in his presidential guards before they could execute their plan of arresting Machar and his colleagues.

Her narration of the events leading to the violence, however, seem to rhyme with the earlier claims by some South Sudanese officials, whom Sudan Tribune talked to on the same matter.

"This thing happened in his [Kiir's] headquarters. When they went there, they wanted to disarm a group of Nuer. They went and found that in the president's headquarters they were many [soldiers belonging to the] Nuer. Their commander then went to the chief of the general staff and asked what he could do. He was then told to leave the [Nuer] soldiers until the next morning," she further narrated.

The widow of the founding father of the new nation, however, said Kiir's presidential commander did not listen to the advice of his chief of general staff, James Hoth Mai, and instead went ahead to disarm the Nuer soldiers.

"But the officer did not listen to his orders and proceeded to try and disarm the Nuer soldiers. This was the time when this thing erupted and war begun in the headquarters of the president," she added.

She also narrated how her senior colleague, Machar, succeeded to escape immediately after the violence erupted.

"So some of them [the Nuer soldiers] went home to Dr. Riek's house to get him out because if he had been in his house, he would have been killed," she said, adding that his home was immediately targeted by Kiir's private army.

"If you went to Juba now you could see the way his house was destroyed and it is not his private house, it is a government house. It was destroyed by Tiger, Kiir's army", Nyandeng said, adding "And then the soldiers who were in Dr. Riek's house, about 34 of them, were all killed, were murdered"

She said Machar's bodyguards were told by the army chief to disarm in order to leave them free, but were later on allegedly murdered by Kiir's forces, which he called Tiger, in memory of the battalion he commanded during the long civil war with Sudan.

"The Chief of the General Service [Staff] had told some people to disarm them [the Nuer soldiers] after telling them he was saving their lives by disarming them. These people (Kiir's Tiger troops) came and killed all of them," she further lamented.

"So when they came in, they targeted massacring Nuer members. A lot of officials, administrators in Juba were killed. This is what literally happened," added Nyandeng.

The Sudanese leader has accused the international community over their refusal to condemn what he said was a failed coup attempt by those opposed to his leadership.

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