News / Africa

South Sudan President Kiir ‘Committed’ to Peace Talks

sudan kiir
sudan kiir
Peter Clottey
South Sudan’s foreign minister says President Salva Kiir is committed to a peaceful political settlement to the ongoing civil conflict as the warring factions begin peace negotiations in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

Barnaba Marial Benjamin says Mr. Kiir is willing to hold face-to-face talks with his sacked former vice president Riek Machar.  The talks are sanctioned by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional bloc.

In an interview with VOA, foreign minister Benjamin says Machar is to blame for the political crisis that led to the “disaster.”  Representatives of the two warring factions are in Ethiopia as part of negotiating efforts to resolve the conflict.

“We hope the government team will negotiate to try to resolve the crisis,” said Benjamin.  “We are optimistic this would have to be resolved by talking to each other.  The government is determined to see that this thing is resolved because we are not interested for our people to die in a senseless war really.” 

Clashes

According to the United Nations the clashes that began last month have left at least 1,000 people dead and tens of thousands displaced from their homes in Africa’s newest nation.

The wave of violence in South Sudan continues, despite calls by regional leaders, the African Union, and the international community for a ceasefire to allow peace negotiations to the end the conflict.

The violence erupted after President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, accused the former vice president, Riek Machar, a Nuer, of attempting a coup.  Mr. Macher, who is in hiding, has denied the accusation.

Coup Accusation

Some observers say President Kiir’s coup accusation appears to have lost traction due to the lack of evidence to support it.  Benjamin insists there was a coup attempt to topple the Kiir administration.

“It is known by all standards that if somebody wants to change an elected democratic government and authority and you want to change that government through the use of force, that is what is called a coup,” said Benjamin.

“The pronouncement of Dr. Riek [Machar] was that he wanted to become the president of this country ... that is why now he is attacking government positions and taking over places, appointing people to constitutional posts in those areas where he has obtained authority.  What will you call that?” he asked.

Benjamin says the national army is carrying out its constitutional mandate to protect the country’s territorial integrity in the conflict.

“If there is a rebellion that targets government institutions and government authority, it is the duty of that country to defend the authority and the sovereignty of the country including the protection of its citizens,” said Benjamin.  “The government is in self-defense of a constitutional position, and I hope the cessation of hostilities will come as a result of some agreement to be done at the peace talks.”

News reports say ethnic tension between the two groups is fueling the conflict, with members of the Nuer and Dinka ethnic groups targeting each other.

Benjamin says President Kiir is ready to hold direct talks with Machar.

“As soon as that is requested by the IGAD countries at Addis Ababa and by the negotiating team should there come a time where it would now need the intervention, direct talks between President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, he would in fact respond to that immediately,” said Benjamin. 

He expressed hope the Addis Ababa talks would lead to a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

Clottey interv with Barnaba Marial Benjamin,South Sudan's foreign minister
Clottey interv with Barnaba Marial Benjamin,South Sudan's foreign ministeri
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs