4 June 2014

South Sudan: Top Diplomat Quits, Flees Country

Photo: Al Jazeera English
Salva Kiir, president

A senior official in South Sudan's foreign ministry, Francis Nazario, has quit the government and fled the country to protest the ongoing conflict in South Sudan, which he says has claimed more than 10,000 lives in Juba alone.

In a telephone interview with South Sudan in Focus, Nazario said security forces in the South Sudanese capital regularly harass, beat and even kill citizens, including high-ranking government officials.

I can't be in Juba while seeing people being harassed, killed by government security.

Other factors that pushed Nazario to leave his country include the deaths of "over 10,000 people in Juba alone and more than that in other cities," the more than one million South Sudanese who have been displaced by six months of fighting, he said.

"Since the beginning of the war on December 15, have you heard any of the opposition talking? The government is deliberately preventing media houses talking to the opposition," Nazario said, accusing the authorities of trying to control the message in South Sudan.

"I don't want to be part of what's happening," he said.

"I won't go back until there's a solution, until there's freedom, respect of human rights ... Until you can say what you want without being harassed," he said. "I can't be in Juba while seeing people being harassed, killed by government security."

Officials at the foreign affairs ministry in Juba declined to comment on Nazario's departure and accusations. Nazario has served as permanent representative for South Sudan to the United Nations and as head of mission in Belgium and the European Union. He is the latest official to quit the government and flee the country.

On Tuesday, Richard Mulla, the member of parliament for Western Equatoria state, told South Sudan in Focus that he fled to Kenya because he feared for his life in South Sudan. Mulla said around a dozen other lawmakers - including members of the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) - have also fled to Nairobi.

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