South Sudan Must Take All Steps to Avoid Civil War | Freedom House

South Sudan Must Take All Steps to Avoid Civil War

Washington

Freedom House is deeply concerned by the recent violence in South Sudan, and urges all sides to immediately cease hostilities and negotiate an end to the current conflict.

More than 500 people have been killed since fighting erupted in the capital, Juba, on December 15, with approximately 800 injured. President Salva Kiir blamed the start of the violence on an attempted coup by forces loyal to former vice president Riek Machar, whom Kiir removed from office in July 2013. Machar has denied any involvement in the conflict, saying that Kiir invented to coup as an excuse to attack Machar’s forces. Fighting has since spread to other parts of the country. A team of African mediators has traveled to South Sudan and met with President Kiir, who has said he is ready for talks with Machar.

Reports from the UN and other international groups paint the conflict as increasingly ethnically motivated. Kiir is a member of the majority Dinka group, while Machar belongs to the Nuer tribe. There are reports of attacks on civilians of both tribes during the current conflict, including a December 19th attack by Nuer gunmen on a UN compound harboring Dinka civilians.

“We are facing a potential civil war between the Dinka and the Nuer,” said Vukasin Petrovic, director of Africa programs for Freedom House. “If the government of South Sudan cannot peacefully resolve this conflict, the international community needs to intervene, both to stop the violence and to set up a dispute resolution mechanism. If South Sudan is going to exist and function as a state, it quickly needs to find a sustainable way to deal with its ethnic divisions.”

Freedom House urges the leaders of both sides to halt all further acts of violence, and negotiate a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Freedom House also calls on the government of South Sudan to ease the ethnic divisions within the country, including steps to reduce political tribalism within the political system, increase transparency and reduce government corruption.

South Sudan is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2013 and Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2013.

To learn more about South Sudan, please visit:

Freedom in the World 2013: South Sudan
Freedom of the Press 2013: South Sudan
Blog: Freedom at Issue

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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