News / Africa

Kerry Warns of Genocide Risk in South Sudan

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry holds a news conference in Addis Ababa, May 1, 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry holds a news conference in Addis Ababa, May 1, 2014.
— U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is warning of the risk of genocide in South Sudan if four months of deadly fighting there is not stopped. Kerry on Thursday discussed the violence with regional foreign ministers and African Union officials in Addis Ababa.
 
 Kerry says those responsible for what he calls "unspeakable violence" in South Sudan must be brought to justice to prevent the conflict from deteriorating further.
 
"There are very disturbing leading indicators of the kind of ethnic, tribal, targeted, nationalistic killings taking place that raise serious questions, and were they to continue in the way that they have been going could really present a very serious challenge to the international community with respect to the question of genocide," he said.


 
John Kerry (2nd L) participates in a meeting with Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Tedros Adhanom (2nd R), Kenyan FM Amina Mohamed (3rd R) and Ugandan FM Sam Kutesa (R) in Addis Ababa, May 1.John Kerry (2nd L) participates in a meeting with Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Tedros Adhanom (2nd R), Kenyan FM Amina Mohamed (3rd R) and Ugandan FM Sam Kutesa (R) in Addis Ababa, May 1.
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John Kerry (2nd L) participates in a meeting with Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Tedros Adhanom (2nd R), Kenyan FM Amina Mohamed (3rd R) and Ugandan FM Sam Kutesa (R) in Addis Ababa, May 1.
John Kerry (2nd L) participates in a meeting with Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Tedros Adhanom (2nd R), Kenyan FM Amina Mohamed (3rd R) and Ugandan FM Sam Kutesa (R) in Addis Ababa, May 1.
The secretary of state says he is working with regional leaders to avoid that by moving "to put people on the ground who can begin to make a difference" separating people and providing security.  

He met here in Addis Ababa with foreign ministers from Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, who he says all agree on the need for African troops under a United Nations mandate.
 
He also pushed them to join U.S. moves toward a travel ban and assets freeze on those responsible for the violence but said Washington is "absolutely prepared" to move on its own.
 
"We may well move on our own," he said.  "But each of the foreign ministers today accepted the responsibility for also doing sanctions."
 
Kerry says some of the violence is the responsibility of individual generals with their own agenda, "but the place to start is the place where it started," and that is with South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, Riek Machar.

 
South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar speaks to rebel General Peter Gatdet Yaka (not seen) in a rebel controlled territory in Jonglei State, Feb. 1, 2014.South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar speaks to rebel General Peter Gatdet Yaka (not seen) in a rebel controlled territory in Jonglei State, Feb. 1, 2014.
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South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar speaks to rebel General Peter Gatdet Yaka (not seen) in a rebel controlled territory in Jonglei State, Feb. 1, 2014.
South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar speaks to rebel General Peter Gatdet Yaka (not seen) in a rebel controlled territory in Jonglei State, Feb. 1, 2014.
The most serious fighting began in late December, soon after the Kiir government accused Machar of trying to seize power.  While a senior State Department official says Washington does not "buy into the narrative of a coup attempt," Kerry says there is a clear distinction between the men whose "personal anger" is fueling this violence.
 
"The current president of South Sudan is the elected, constitutional president of a country.  And Mr. Machar is a rebel who is trying to unconstitutionally take power by force.  And there is a clear distinction.  There is no equivalency between the two," he said.
 
Kerry says Machar "needs to think clearly about that," particularly in the wake of allegations that ethnic Nuer rebels killed hundreds of civilians in the town of Bentiu last month.

A U.N. report said the rebels "separated individuals of certain nationalities and ethnic groups and escorted them to safety, while the others were killed."  A rebel spokesman has denied that allegation.

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by: James lwany from: South Sudan
May 02, 2014 1:38 AM
Is too late mr. Kerry. Let's died at all then you com to take the oil.


by: Gerald
May 02, 2014 1:30 AM
"Doesn't always do what is right for the people" is profoundly true, but a reality check throughout Africa shows major countries have failed to intervene, as it would necessitate fighting an "unpopular" war on another continent, involving conscription and ultimately the duration and withdrawal, apart from monetary costs, which would impact on their economy. The ICC pressure you refer to, is difficult to enforce, and words without action, well just look at some countries where "rulers" have escaped trial at the ICC and continue to do so.


by: Wilhelm from: Zambia
May 01, 2014 8:39 PM
I think right from the beginning or even before South Sudan became a state the administrative structures within SPLA were never democratic and this culture of intolerance to opposition was not only continued but got worse after independence, the west should not have been so naïve in thinking things would change. I think lessons should be learnt here i.e a liberation party is not the people and doesn't always do what is right for the people. Good Kerry has indeed brought out the threat of more mass killings and pointed out the culprits Kiir and Machar maybe the added pressure of having them brought before the ICC might cease the meaningless loss of life.

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