Kenya criticizes new clashes in South Sudan

Kenya has criticized renewed clashes between rival army factions in Juba, South Sudan in which 115 people mostly soldiers were killed.

Government spokesman Eric Kiraithe said Kenya was working closely with its embassy in Juba to ensure the safety of Kenyan citizens in the country.

“It is with deep disappointment that our government has learned of a fresh wave of fighting in Juba, South Sudan involving factions of the recently constituted (the) government of national unity,” Kiraithe said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

“It is a sad day for the young country whose citizens continue to sacrifice their lives and comfort in search of peace and prosperity,” he added.

Heavy gunfire erupted in South Sudan’s presidential palace, a day after clashes between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar left five dead and two others injured in the capital city.

A spokesman for the Machar-led Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO), William Gatjiath, said that some 115 people mostly soldiers were killed in exchange of fire.

Gatjiath said the SPLM-IO side incurred a high number of causalities.

Kenya has appealed for restraint between the army factions and confirmed there are no reports of Kenyan casualties in the renewed violence.

“We join President Salva Kiir and the people of South Sudan in calling for restraint as efforts are being made to restore peace,” Kiraithe said.

He said Nairobi welcomed and backed South Sudan’s swift action to restore peace through the setting up of a bipartisan government committee.

He also said the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African bloc which has facilitated South Sudan’s peace process, would continue to support the country’s peace and stability.

“As a region, IGAD remains steadfast and committed if called upon to help in the mediation efforts,” Kiraithe said.

It was not immediately clear what triggered the fighting which spread to Juba’s environs. The capital city was calm as the country marked the fifth anniversary of its independence.

South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 after clashes between forces loyal to President Kiir and his then sacked deputy Machar. Machar denied he was planning a coup but then mobilized a rebel force.

A deal signed by the two men last August under UN pressure led to the formation of a national unity government in April, with Machar returning to his old post.

 

Xinhua/Zainab Sa’id