June 6, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan has denied mistreating its former ambassador to the United Nations, Francis George Nazario, claiming the latter’s resignation was out of “personal interest”.
- Former South Sudanese ambassador Francis George Nazario (ST)
The government was reacting to issues raised in Nazario’s resignation letter in which he accused the country’s leadership of failing its citizens by not doing enough to stem ongoing conflict in the country, saying the system had become intolerable for critical voices.
Earlier this week Nazario confirmed his resignation and said he had since left the country “because I don’t want to part of what is happening”, describing the situation as “unbearable”.
“I will not return until there is a solution to the current problem; until there is a freedom, respect for human rights and until you can say what you want to say without fear of being harassed and victimised for your opinion,” He said on Friday.
“I cannot accept to remain in [the capital], Juba, while our people continues to be harassed and killed by the government security,” he added.
Information and broadcasting minister Michael Makuei Lueth told reporters on Friday that Nazario had become aggrieved after the government recalled him from his position over decisions it felt went against the best interests of the country.
His recall came after he voted in favour of a 2012 resolution, which supported self-determination for a Palestinian state at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
“The government decided to call him back but he felt aggrieved and started misbehaving because he was transferred from where he was deployed. He is an angry person and you should understand that all he is saying is [and] expression of anger and dissatisfaction, which is full of false and lies,” said Lueth.
Meanwhile, a statement from the ministry of foreign affairs said the former ambassador had been well regarded by the country’s leadership and had always enjoyed so-called prestige deployments.
Nazario, who has spent eight years abroad, served as South Sudan’s representative in Brussels, the seat of the European Union, before being transferred to the UN in the capacity of deputy head of mission. After being recalled he was appointed director for human rights and humanitarian affairs at the ministry headquarters.
“With the confidence of the leadership of the country, he was transferred to the United Nations in the capacity of deputy head of mission – another prestigious position that does not match with the person being marginalised or discriminated as he claimed,” the minstry’s statement said.
It has accused Nazario of seriously damaging foreign relations with some friendly countries, including Israel and Russia, saying he was warned against taking decisions on issues tabled before the UN general assembly without prior consultation with headquarters.
However, the ministry said Nazario continued to ignore those directives, prompting the ministry to finally recall him.
“As a reaction to his recall, he presented himself to the media as having been intentionally victimised and opted for a leave without pay, which was granted,” the statement said in part.
“The ministry would like to assure the general public that while Ambassador Francis tries to portray himself as a nationalist who cares about national issues, the fact of the matter, in the opinion of the ministry, is based on personal interest and not otherwise,” it said in the statement, pointing out that the timing of his decision to quit coincides with current administrative developments taking place at the ministry and South Sudan’s diplomatic missions abroad.
In an unofficial resignation letter tendered on 2 June, Nazario allegedly claimed he was unable to continue associating with the current leadership and government.
“Under the current situation, I find it extremely difficult to continue assuming my responsibility as a nationalist, who has always vowed to support the legitimate aspirations and just cause of the valiant people of South Sudan,” he wrote.
Diplomatic sources also speculated this week whether the official opted out of civil service after seeing no future for his diplomacy career under the country’s current government led by president Salva Kiir.
A ministry official claimed Nazario had been due to be posted to Brussels, but later learnt his appointment had been cancelled.