News / Africa

South Sudan President Kiir ‘Committed’ to Peace Talks

sudan kiir
sudan kiir
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid