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S. Sudan rebels accuse president of calling for tribal war

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

July 15, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – A senior official from South Sudan’s SPLM/A in Opposition has accused president Salva Kiir of calling for a tribal war between Dinkas and Nuers.

Miyong Kuon, who is aide to the group’s leader, former vice-president Riek Machar, told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that Kiir had encouraged members of the Dinka tribe to which he belongs to stand up and fight against the Nuers.

The president is alleged to have made the calls in his native Dinka language while speaking at a public rally in Lakes state capital Rumbek on 12 July.

“You, the Dinka of Rumbek, why are you fighting yourselves and not your enemies? The Nuers are coming to fight you. You should wait for your enemies the Nuer to fight you,” Kuon quoted the president as saying.

He said the comments suggest Kiir was calling on the Dinka tribe to end infighting and unite in the fight against their common enemiy, the Nuer.

Rebels further accuse Kiir of attempting to foster disunity among South Sudanese people and divide the country along ethnic lines.

The armed opposition group comprising mainly dissident soldiers and ethnic militia from Machar’s Nuer tribe has been engaged in an armed struggle with the South Sudanese government since mid-December last year when a political split emerged in the ruling SPLM, triggering tribal tensions across the country.

Kiir initially accused his former deputy, who was sacked last July, of attempting to stage a coup to topple his regime. Machar has denied the allegations, but admitted to starting a rebellion.

Another rebel official said such public statements indicated that the leadership in Juba isn’t serious about reaching a political settlement to the crisis.

A ceasefire agreement signed by the two warring parties in January and recommitted to by the rival leaders in May has failed to halt the ongoing conflict.

Both sides, meanwhile, continue to trade accusations of violations to the terms of the agreement.