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Secretary Kerry:"peace is the only option" for South Sudan

Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement on Friday regarding the recent violence in South Sudan and telephoned the South Sudanese president on Thursday to express his concern and encourage him "to protect all South Sudanese citizens and work toward reconciliation."
Posted By JC Finley   |   Dec. 20, 2013 at 10:25 PM   |   Comments

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Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Secretary of State John Kerry released a press statement Friday concerning the recent outbreak of violence in South Sudan that the UN worries could be ethnically driven as tensions mount between the president's Dinka tribe and the ousted vice president's Nuer tribe.

In the State Department press release, Kerry noted that he telephoned South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit after a deadly attack against a UN compound in South Sudan.

The international community is laser-focused on the deeply alarming violence in South Sudan. We are all determined to continue standing for the aspirations of a people who have endured far too many years of conflict and sacrificed far too much to allow their young country to plunge back into turmoil. With the world watching and South Sudan’s people yearning for a country marked by peace and prosperity not conflict and division, peace is the only option.

Last night, I called South Sudanese President Kiir and urged him, as president of all of South Sudan, to protect all South Sudanese citizens and work toward reconciliation. We recalled the difficult decisions that led to the remarkable moment when so many stood in long lines for a referendum to give birth to South Sudan, knowing all too well that the toughest decisions were still to come. Now is the time for leadership that makes those decisions through dialogue.

Now is the time for South Sudan’s leaders to rein in armed groups under their control, immediately cease attacks on civilians, and end the chain of retributive violence between different ethnic and political groups. The violence must stop, the dialogue must intensify.

To help facilitate this process, we have asked our U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Ambassador Donald Booth, to travel to the region and support regional efforts already underway. He will be departing today.

The United States strongly condemns yesterday’s attacks on the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) base in Akobo County in Jonglei State, South Sudan. We offer our condolences to the UN and victims of this attack. We call on all parties to respect UNMISS, to refrain from any attacks on its personnel, and to help facilitate its mission to protect civilians who have sought shelter from the turmoil secure the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all those in need.

The United States and other partners are committed to the realization of South Sudan’s full political, social, and economic potential, but make no mistake: these cooperative efforts will be undermined if political disputes drag the country back into senseless conflict and strife. Moreover, any armed attack on the capital will be seen as an attempt to achieve an unlawful usurpation of power, which would be universally condemned. Those who seek to take or hold power by violence or division of South Sudanese along ethnic lines will not have our support. Violence today will not pave the way for a more stable or prosperous tomorrow.

Earlier this week, President Salva Kiir reported a coup attempt by members loyal to ousted Vice President Riek Machar failed on Monday when the military stopped an attack against an army base. Despite an imposed dusk-to-dawn curfew, gunfire continued into Tuesday. Due to the growing instability, the U.S. Embassy announced an ordered evacuation on Tuesday. Thursday's attack against the UN compound was attributed to local youth from the Nuer tribe seeking retribution for the alleged targeted killing of their kinsmen in Juba.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement on Friday condemning the deadly attack against the UN compound.

[U.S. Department of State]
[UPI]
[United Nations]

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