By Christine Walters
South Sudan News
Juba, South Sudan — December 26 … South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit issued a Christmas call for the immediate restoration of peace on an official Twitter social media account of South Sudan’s government: “Innocent people have been wantonly killed. People are targeting others because of their tribal affiliation. This is unacceptable,” announced the President. “These atrocities recurring have to cease immediately.”
President Kiir, a devout Catholic, has attended the Christmas mass in Juba, the capital of war-torn South Sudan staying at the service shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of refugees seeking protection in the church.
The compound of the Catholic cathedral of Juba has been transformed into a refugee camp in the past week. Close to 7,000 people have found shelter there from tribal violence, which began with an attempted coup by Riek Machar, former Vice President, on 15 December and has since spread to half of South Sudan forcing up to 80,000 civilians to flee their homes.
“The current crisis in South Sudan cannot be comprehended in isolation from the country’s tormented past and challenging current posture. South Sudan has been trying hard to build a nation and a state after the debilitating war of independence, autonomy period, and the post-independence austerity period (caused by Sudan’s blocking of oil exports until very recently). It is a mighty challenge given the diversity of the population and the gravity of the situation”, wrote in its analytical report an influential African think-tank The Fashoda Institute.
“President Kiir was doing as great a job as can be expected under such horrific conditions. For several months now, Machar has tried to further the self-interests of his Nuer tribe by undermining the nation-building effort of the Kiir administration, and by reawakening the sectarian-tribal tensions”, opined the analysis.
“When Machar was rejected by the South Sudan government and Party establishments – he launched the revolt that is now tearing the nation apart along tribal-national lines. Reik Machar must not be rewarded for awakening and capitalizing on sectarian-tribal hostilities and enmities (as he did in the 1990s and caused several Nuer massacres of Dinka). The South Sudan government should be helped to restore stability and unity in the country, and then should be helped to improve both good governance and the economy”, concludes The Fashoda Institute.