Kampala — South Sudan's ambassador to Uganda, Samuel Luate, has dismissed claims by the country's rebel faction that Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni had denied the coflict was triggered by a coup.
Luate was reacting to comments last month by former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar who said Museveni had dismissed claims of a coup d'état in the capital, Juba, in mid-December last month, saying it was simply a misunderstanding among the presidential guards.
The comments were reportedly made during a sideline meeting with Machar, Museveni and other IGAD leaders in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
In an interview with Sudan Tribune in the Uganda capital, Kampala, Luate maintained that evidence supported the government's view that the events of last December constituted an aborted coup attempt.
"When there is shooting in [the] presidential guards and then there is shooting at the military barracks in Bilpam, then there is defection at the same time in [Jonglei state capital] Bor, another defection at the same time in Unity state; what do you call that if there is no coup d'état?" he said, adding that the evidence suggested a degree of coordination.
Luate said comments attributed to Museveni had been misrepresented by Machar, dismissing the claims as lies and propaganda.
Ambassador Luate also accused South Sudanese living abroad of inciting more hatred in the country and deliberately undermining the peace process by making inflammatory comments on social media.
He also warned youths against turning against each other along tribal lines, saying it endangers the country's unity.
"We are expecting that you outside have learnt a lot of things. Those [who] are in America you see democracy, those in Canada you see democracy there, in Australia you see democracy, even in Uganda and Africa as a whole there is democracy everywhere," he said.
He called on South Sudanese people to refrain from taking sides along tribal lines, urging them to put national unity above tribal differences.
"We, as intellectual or people who are outside, they must understand that we should speak one language of peace," he said.
"Whether you are in America, whether you are what part of the world, with us here in Africa we want peace and so South Sudanese over the world must speak of peace not say '[we] must divide on tribal fight,'" added Luate.
The ambassador called on South Sudanese across the world to unite in their support for Kiir, saying leadership is a gift from God and not solely related to a person's education background.