News / Africa

US Warns South Sudan Against Sliding Back into Violence

  • A tank patrols one of the main roads in the South Sudanese capital Juba, Dec. 16, 2013. The South Sudanese president declared a curfew in the capital Juba on Monday after clashes overnight between rival factions of soldiers.
  • South Sudan President Salva Kiir tells reporters at a news conference in Juba on Monday, December 16, 2013 that the government has "full control" of the situation in the capital after what he says was an overnight coup attempt.
  • US Special Envoy for South Sudan and Sudan Donald Booth (R), shown here with South Sudan in Focus host John Tanza, urged South Sudan on Monday not to fall back into violence, but refused to call the overnight unrest in Juba an attempted coup.
The United States is closely watching the situation in the South Sudanese capital where President Salva Kiir says his government has thwarted an attempted coup.
U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth on Monday urged South Sudan not to slide back into violence after clashes rocked Juba overnight, but refused to call the unrest in the capital an attempted coup.

"The situation remains unclear as to what exactly sparked the violence... We are not confirming a coup attempt yet," Booth told VOA News in an interview.

"We've been reaching out to numerous parties in Juba as well as others in the region to put together a picture of what exactly happened," Booth said, adding that "the new country cannot afford a slide back into violence." 

President Salva Kiir told a news conference earlier Monday that a group of soldiers allied to former Vice President Riek Machar, who was sacked in July by Kiir as part of a complete cabinet reshuffle, had launched an attack on army headquarters in Juba, plunging the capital into a night of violence.

His government had regained control as of Monday morning, Kiir said, even as witnesses reported hearing continuing gunfire and explosions in Juba.

The U.S. embassy issued a statement calling for all sides to settle their differences through "peaceful political means." It warned  U.S. citizens in South Sudan to remain indoors until calm has been restored.

Booth told VOA that embassy personnel in Juba are themselves sheltering in place "until they feel it's safe to move around the city."

Juba is under a dusk to dawn curfew until further notice and the international airport was closed in response to the violence. 

Although VOA reporters in other South Sudanese states said the situation there was calm, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf expressed concern that the violence could spread to other countries in the volatile region, and said Washington was continuing to monitor the situation.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said in a statement that hundreds of civilians, many of them women and children, have sought shelter at the U.N. compound near Juba's international airport and at U.N. House in the Jebel Kujur area of the city. 

In the statement, UNMISS also denied "any suggestion that the UN Mission is harboring any key political or military figures" as rumors circulated that Machar had sought refuge with the U.N. or with a foreign embassy.

Machar's whereabouts were unknown Monday, and VOA was unable to reach him or his spokesman for comment.

Since he was fired five months ago, Machar has been highly critical of Kiir, saying he has "dictatorial tendencies" and vowing to challenge him for the leadership of the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) party ahead of general elections in 2015.

Booth told VOA News that the United States has been "concerned for awhile about the rising tensions between different factions of the SPLM" and said he called during recent visits to South Sudan for all sides to resolve any disputes they might have through dialogue, not violence.


You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
December 17, 2013 6:39 AM
Us should pray for sudan not warn.No single country or president is happy when his country goes down with war.

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs