News / Africa

On Anniversary of Independence Vote, South Sudan 'In Danger of Shattering'

Displaced people walk past razor wire at Tomping camp, where some 15,000 displaced people are sheltered by the United Nations, near Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 7, 2014.
Displaced people walk past razor wire at Tomping camp, where some 15,000 displaced people are sheltered by the United Nations, near Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 7, 2014.
Three years years after the people of South Sudan turned out in huge numbers to vote for independence from Sudan, the world's newest nation is standing on the brink of failure, a senior U.S. official told lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday.

"On January 9, 2011, the people of South Sudan voted in overwhelming numbers for independence from the Republic of Sudan," Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the situation in South Sudan.

"After decades of war, they were peacefuilly and joyfully voting for separation and a new future. Today, tragically, the world's youngest country and undoubtedly one of the most fragile democracies is in danger of shattering," she said.

Tragically, the world's youngest country and undoubtedly one of the most fragile democracies is in danger of shattering.
As Thomas-Greenfield spoke in Washington, talks aimed at bringing peace to South Sudan were on hold in Addis Ababa after mediators from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) failed during a trip to Juba to convince South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to release 11 senior members of the ruling party who were arrested when the unrest started on Dec. 15.

Kiir has said the unrest was triggered by an attempted coup, led by his former Vice President Riek Machar. Machar has consistently denied the accusations, and observers have said the violence erupted when renegade soldiers attacked an army headquarters building in Juba.

Opposition delegates at the talks have asked that the detainees be released before they will agree to a ceasefire, but Kiir "refused point-blank" to the IGAD mediators' request to free them, a spokesman for Machar said Thursday.

In spite of the negotiations stalling, they were not in danger of collapsing, the spokesman, Hussein Mar Nyuot, told reporters in Addis Ababa Thursday.

Members of South Sudan rebel delegation attend the opening ceremony of South Sudan's negotiation in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 4, 2014.Members of South Sudan rebel delegation attend the opening ceremony of South Sudan's negotiation in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 4, 2014.
x
Members of South Sudan rebel delegation attend the opening ceremony of South Sudan's negotiation in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 4, 2014.
Members of South Sudan rebel delegation attend the opening ceremony of South Sudan's negotiation in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 4, 2014.
"We are disappointed... that the president turned down the request to release the political detainees but it is something we can discuss," Mar Nyuot said.

"I can't say the talks are going to collapse...On our part we are very positive. We are not pulling out of IGAD," he said, adding that "big pressure" is being put on Kiir "and we are hopeful he will change his mind." 

Mar Nyuot said the talks will resume when IGAD mediators call the two sides back to the negotiating table.


Civilians Flee Bentiu


On the ground in South Sudan, civilians continued to flee fighting between government troops and forces loyal to Machar.

United Nations' humanitarian official Toby Lanzer described in a series of Twitter messages scenes of devastation and violence in the town of Bentiu, in Unity State, which fell to forces loyal to Machar days after the fighting erupted in Juba more than three weeks ago.

Many people were "on the move," Lanzer tweeted, describing Bentiu as a ghost-town with "virtually no civilians"  amid reports that government troops are advancing toward the town.

The market, usually a hive of activity and commerce, has been destroyed, and heavily armed men who say they back Machar are walking around the city, Lanzer wrote.

The U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has evacuated some 500 civilians who had gathered at the compound of the World Food Programme in Bentiu and taken them to the U.N. base for safety.

Mongolian peacekeepers have dug a trench and built a berm around the base to try to better protect the civilians sheltering there, he said.

Soldiers from Rwanda serving under United Nations Mission in South Sudan keep watch from an observatory point at Tomping camp, near Juba, Jan. 7, 2014.Soldiers from Rwanda serving under United Nations Mission in South Sudan keep watch from an observatory point at Tomping camp, near Juba, Jan. 7, 2014.
x
Soldiers from Rwanda serving under United Nations Mission in South Sudan keep watch from an observatory point at Tomping camp, near Juba, Jan. 7, 2014.
Soldiers from Rwanda serving under United Nations Mission in South Sudan keep watch from an observatory point at Tomping camp, near Juba, Jan. 7, 2014.
The United Nations says more than 60,000 are sheltering on U.N. bases throughout the country, including 8,000 in Bentiu.

Some 250,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, and while no official death toll has been released, a top U.N. official said Thursday it is  likely to be "very substantially in excess of the figure of 1,000 that we know for sure about.”

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid