'S Sudan president, opposition leader should step down'

By Mel Frykberg Time of article published Oct 24, 2016

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Johannesburg - South Sudan could disintegrate into ethnic enclaves if both South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and former opposition leader Dr Riek Machar don't step down, according to former deputy defence minister Majak Agot.

Agot also warned that both Kiir and Machar, who is currently in South Africa receiving medical treatment, were responsible for the state of anarchy in the country, the Sudan Tribune reported on Monday.

The former deputy defence minister was arrested in 2013 for allegedly instigating fighting in the capital Juba.

South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2013.

In December of that year, a civil war broke out between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), supporters of Kiir who are mostly ethnic Dinka, and the armed supporters of Machar's SPLA-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) who are Nuer tribesmen.

A peace treaty was signed in August 2015 and Machar returned to Juba in April of this year but fled the country again in July when fighting once again broke out between the two sides.

In his absence, Kiir replaced Machar with Taban Deng Gai, a move that further exacerbated the fractious relationship between Machar and Kiir.

"There is a potential threat of a total breakdown of the state. It's a level of degeneration that was unexpected," said Agot.

"Policies that are being implemented are pushing people apart and destroying the social fabric," the Tribune reported Agot saying. "There is intense hate speech, ethnic mobilisation and this is leading to fragmentation."

Meanwhile, the Tribune reported that officials in South Sudan's Yei state have switched allegiance from the government to the armed opposition faction led by Machar, claiming the army in the area was no longer protecting people.

"Yei county commissioner, Bidali Cosmas Wori-Kojo, is one the state's local officials who have defected to the armed opposition faction," reported the Tribune.

The official, who defected on Saturday, was also joined and accompanied by many government soldiers. He cited the failure and unwillingness of the government to bring peace to the country.

African News Agency

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