Editorial

Save S. Sudan from genocide

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Posted  Friday, December 27  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

This is just one indicator of the tragic stories of death, despair and hopelessness the war-weary people of South Sudan are going through after a long-running political strain between the young nation’s President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar recently escalated into violence in the capital Juba.

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A report in the New York Times documents harrowing tales of how security forces in South Sudan, according to survivors, “went house to house, rounding up civilians by the dozens and binding the wrists of some with wire… Some were summarily shot in the street, while others were hauled off to crowded cells. Bodies of the executed were tossed into shallow graves”.

This is just one indicator of the tragic stories of death, despair and hopelessness the war-weary people of South Sudan are going through after a long-running political strain between the young nation’s President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar recently escalated into violence in the capital Juba.

The fighting that has since spread to other states of South Sudan has, worryingly, taken a dangerous ethnic dimension. South Sudan, like many diverse nations, has deep-rooted ethnic divisions, which political leaders often use to rally support for their selfish interests.
It is, therefore, not surprising, but deeply disturbing that innocent civilians have become the targets of this war.

Extra-judicial killings have been reported in Juba and also areas controlled by rebels led by Dr Machar, with bodies littering the streets.

While the exact number of the dead is not clear, a top UN humanitarian co-coordinator in South Sudan says thousands of people must have been killed in the past week, with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs putting the number of those displaced at 92,000.
For a young nation that got independence from Khartoum in 2011 after more than two decades of civil war that claimed the lives of more than a million people, the last thing South Sudan and its people need is another war.

Both Kiir and Machar were part of the liberation leaders, who fought a long-standing war to free the various ethnic groups of South Sudan, from the Arab-dominated Khartoum government. The two rivals should, therefore, listen to the voices of the international community and religious leaders calling for dialogue.

While the UN has taken a positive step by nearly doubling the number of peacekeepers in the volatile region to 12,500, the restoration of sustainable peace in South Sudan lies squarely on the actions of the country’s political leaders whose command, to their heavily armed followers, is law.

Kiir and Machar must preach unity in diversity. The world watched as genocide unfolded in Rwanda in 1994. Not again!