Rioting Reported After Failed Coup in South Sudan

Lack of Democracy and Ethnic Rivalries Said to be Causes of Unrest

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Opposition groups’ frustration with a lack of democracy in South Sudan is said to be a principal cause of an attempted coup in the country this week.

«The lack of democratic attitudes towards the political opposition, especially since July this year, has given birth to an armed opposition that has attempted a coup,» an anonymous source of the local Church in South Sudan told Fides news agency Dec. 18.

The failed attempt to oust the government in the capital Juba has caused at least 500 deaths, according to the UN. Eight hundred more are wounded, and 15,000-20,000 people have sought refuge at the two United Nations headquarters in the capital.

«The coup failed in Juba but the organizers have managed to flee the capital,» the source added. «Now the danger is that these leaders, who also have an influence on the army, are able to provoke a revolt in other areas of the country. Unfortunately, the tribal aspect still counts a lot. The risk is real, especially in the Upper Nile.»

The church observer reported rioting was already taking place in Bor, the state capital of Jonglei, about 50 miles north of Juba.

«To understand the complex dynamics of the situation, we must take into account that current President Salva Kiir is a Dinka from the area of Bar al-Ghazal, while John Garang [the former southern Sudanese leader who died in a helicopter crash in 2005] was also a Dinka but from Bor, where now there are riots «, the source explained. «The Dinka people from Jonglei have never really accepted Kiir as President.»

He added that Riek Machar, the Vice President, who was sacked in July, is instead a Nuer, the second ethnic group in South Sudan. «It seems Machar organized the failed coup, with the help of some minority tribes,» he said.

«Unfortunately, in this scenario it seems that the well being of the nation is not first priority. We hope and pray that all those who have political and military responsibilities in this country work for the good of the nation, setting aside, if this is the case, their personal ambitions», he concluded.

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