JUBA — A South Sudanese diplomat who quit his senior post and fled the country has "betrayed the trust" of the government, the foreign affairs ministry said Friday.
Ministry spokesman Mawien Makol Arik said former permanent representative to the United Nations and head of mission to Belgium and the European Union Francis Nazario was recalled to Juba in 2012 from his position at the United Nations, but refused to return.
Arik said the foreign minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, nevertheless appointed Nazario to a top foreign ministry post last year.
“The honorable minister granted Francis Nazario another chance and recalled him to the service, where he was deployed as Executive Director of the minister’s office, another sensitive and prestigious post. But instead he opted to once more betray the trust given to him,” Arik read from a statement.
Nazario told South Sudan in Focus in a telephone interview this week that he had resigned and fled the country to protest the ongoing conflict, which has cost the lives of at least 10,000 people in Juba alone.
He accused the government of suppressing basic rights in South Sudan, including the right to free expression. He said security officials in the capital were regularly harassing, beating and even killing citizens, including high-ranking government officials.
Arik denied the claims made by the former diplomat.
“Nazario tried to portray himself as a nationalist who cares about national issues. But unfortunately, the fact of the matter, in the opinion of the ministry, is that his decision is based on personal interest and nothing otherwise,” Arik said.
Earlier this week, South Sudan's information minister, Michael Makuei, said Nazario was lashing out at the government because he was unhappy after being recalled from the United Nations.
"When he was called back, ultimately, he felt aggrieved, and, as such, all that he’s saying is only an expression of his dissatisfaction because he has been transferred from where he was,” Makuei said.
Other officials denounce government
Nazario is one of several officials who this week spoke out publicly against the government.
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.
Two days earlier, former higher education minister Peter Adwok Nyaba sent a lengthy letter of resignation to President Salva Kiir.
In the letter, Nyaba blamed the president for waging an unnecessary war that has resulted in the death of "tens if not hundreds of thousands of our people," and accused him of turning the SPLM into an oppressive, totalitarian machine that has committed "horrendous crimes" against the people of south Sudan.