A South Sudanese former general has announced the creation of a rebel group to overthrow president Salva Kiir. Thomas Cirillo Swaka resigned earlier this year after accusing the leadership of perpetrating ethnic-based violence in the war-torn country, a claim that the government denies.
“The National Salvation Front is convinced that to restore sanity and normalcy in our country, Kiir must go; he must vacate office without further bloodshed,” Swaka said in a statement, according to AFP. He added Kiir should be “removed from power by all means necessary.”
Swaka’s resignation was a blow to the government, increasingly accused of committing human rights abuses.
South Sudan is already battling against a rebel group headed by former vice-president Riek Machar. The rebel chief, heads the Sudan People’s Liberation Army In Opposition (SPLM-IO), which split from SPLM in 2013.
Machar has been living in South Africa since he fled the country following deadly violence in the capital Juba in July 2016.
Earlier this year, the government was hit by another high-level resignation that saw Lieutenant General Gabriel Duop Lam, the minister of labour, defecting to join Machar.
Both Kiir’s press secretary and the South Sudanese embassy in London have not replied to a request for comments on Swaka’s announcement.
South Sudan war
The South Sudan conflict erupted in 2013 when President Kiir, of the Dinka ethnic group, fired his deputy Machar, from the Nuer group.
Ethnic-related violence targeting Dinka and Nuer has killed an estimated 50,000 people, amid allegations of crimes against humanitycommitted by both sides, including rape, torture and the use of child soldiers.
The UN has warned the country was on the verge of a Rwanda-style genocide. Meanwhile, at least 1.5 million people have fled the country according to the UN refugee agency (UNCHR). The exodus has been deemed as “Africa’s worst refugee crisis”.
Those internally displaced are facing severe food shortages due to a man-made famine. Many fear hunger will deepen as the conflict has now spilled into the Equatorial region, considered one of South Sudan’s breadbaskets.
The UN has now appealed for $1.6bn (£1.2bn) to provide life-saving assistance and protection to 5.8 million people across the country.
In an exclusive conversation with IBTimes UK, Machar said he was ready “to go home”. His wife Angelina Teny also told IBTimes UK she believes her husband can contribute to achieve peace in the war-torn nation.
©Alleastafrica and IBTimes