WASHINGTON: The risk of an all-out civil war in South Sudan is growing as violence continues after weeks of deadly conflict, the top U.S. diplomat for Africa warned Thursday.
“Today, tragically, the world’s youngest country and undoubtedly one of its most fragile democracies is in danger of shattering,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary for Africa Linda Thomas-Greenfield before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. “Each day that the conflict continues, the risk of all-out civil war grows.” “There is clear evidence that targeted killings have taken place.”
The current conflict in South Sudan broke out on Dec. 15 when President Salva Kiir’s government claimed that soldiers loyal to former Deputy President Riek Machar, who was dismissed in July, staged an attempted coup. Weeks of bloody conflict have caused more than 200,000 people to flee their homes in the country, according to UN.
Thomas-Greenfield told the committee that “we have not seen any evidence that this was a coup attempt” and the violence erupted due to “a huge political rift” between Kiir and Machar.
Representatives for the both sides are holding talks in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, with mediators hoping to broker a ceasefire.
While there had been an agreement to lay down arms, Machar’s side was still insisting that 11 of his allies be released first by Kiir’s government. The pro-rebel leaders were detained by the government in Juba, the South Sudanese capital, for their alleged role in the coup attempt, according to Thomas-Greenfield.
“We are working, both in Juba as well as in Addis, as well as here in Washington, to pressure the government to release these detainees,” she said. PNA