Iran Calls for Calm in South Sudan
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman expressed concern about the week-long deadly clashes in South Sudan that can flare up into a full-scale civil war, urging the feuding sides in the African country to exercise restraint.
In a statement issued on Friday, Marziyeh Afkham expressed regret over the continuing deadly clashes in the two-year-old African country that have killed and injured hundreds of people so far.
She further called on the fighting sides in South Sudan to show restraint and to look for a peaceful solution to the clashes, hoping that an immediate end to the violence would lay the ground for development and public welfare in the African nation.
The fighting between troops loyal to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, who is from the Dinka ethnic group, and opposition leader Riek Machar, a Nuer (Nilotic ethnic group), erupted around the capital Juba last week.
The violence, which has claimed hundreds of lives and is spreading to other parts of the country, has alarmed South Sudan's African neighbors.
Meanwhile on Friday, President Kiir met foreign ministers from Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda who try to work out a ceasefire as rival factions fought fierce gun battles over Bor, north of capital Juba.
South Sudan's government insists the clashes are over power and politics, not between ethnic groups. The oil-rich country has struggled to achieve a stable government since becoming independent in 2011.
Thousands of people have sought refuge in UN bases, including 200 oil employees in a main crude-producing region. UN officials said one base in Jonglei state, where Bor is located, was breached by Nuer and there may have been deaths.
On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there are signs indicating that the conflict in South Sudan is spreading.
The South Sudanese president accused his archrival and former deputy, Machar, of attempting to topple his government, noting that the coup attempt has been foiled. Machar has denied the accusation.
The government said on Tuesday that ten senior political figures were arrested after the alleged coup attempt.
South Sudan gained independence in July 2011 after its people overwhelmingly voted in a referendum for a seceded from the North. The government in Juba is grappling with rampant corruption, unrest and conflict in the deeply impoverished but oil-rich nation, left devastated by decades of war.