South Sudan: President Kiir Denies involvement in Malakal Attack
South Sudan President Salva Kiir has denied accusations from the country’s leading opposition group that his government was involved in the recent attack on a UN base in Malakal.
Gunmen opened fire on civilians at a UN base on Wednesday, where internally displaced persons (IDPs) had fled to seek protection from years of warfare in the country. The SPLM-IO, which Kiir’s government has been battling against for more than two years accused the regime of planning the attack.
Kiir denies all involvement
It’s the same rhetoric people in South Sudan and international observers have heard for the last two years. Civilians are killed in various spates of violence across the country and each party accuses the other of involvement in, often ethnically-charged, attacks.
Peace deals have so far failed to bring an end to South Sudan’s civil war, but hopes of overdue peace being established were restored last month. President Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar settled terms that would split power between the two parties, return Machar to his former post as vice-president and establish a transitional government in the country.
President Kiir announced earlier this month that Machar would indeed become the country’s vice-president and called on the rebel leader to make his return within seven days. However, little appears to have changed outside of the delegations with this latest attack on civilians having an all-too-familiar feel to it.
South Sudan killing civilians, says UN
The UN has condemned the attack staged against one of its bases, which is designed to protect displaced civilians from precisely that kind of violence. US President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, said the country was disturbed by “credible reports that a large group of South Sudanese Government soldiers entered the compound and opened fire on civilians seeking refuge within the camp.”
UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic said the failure to implement terms agreed at diplomatic meetings in unacceptable.
“It cannot be tolerated that leaders make declarations in Juba, while the hostilities and attacks on the civilian population continue and intensify across the country,” he said.