The residence of South Sudan’s vice president and former rebel leader Riek Machar was attacked on Sunday by forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, but the situation in the capital Juba has calmed down since then, Machar’s spokesman said, speaking from outside the country.
“Dr Machar’s residence was attacked twice today including using tanks and helicopter gunships. Helicopters from Kiir’s side attacked the residence twice,” he told Reuters, adding that he was not in South Sudan but was in contact with Machar.
He said Machar’s forces, who had fought a two-year civil war against troops loyal to President Kiir, had repelled the attack. “As we speak it’s a little quiet, there has not been fighting in the last moments,” he said by telephone.
Neighbouring Kenya called for urgent action by the two leaders to move troops away from civilians and end the crisis.
Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta has called on his South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir to restore calm even after renewed heavy fighting erupted again in Juba on Sunday.
In a statement by Kenya State House spokesperson Manoah Esipisu, Kenyatta had already reached out to President Salva Kiir over the matter.
Kenyatta said it was with ‘profound regret that we have observed the renewed fighting unravel in South Sudan.’
“This is truly a very sad and difficult time for our neighbour. We join the region, and the global community, in calling for a cessation to these brutal actions that endanger the lives of ordinary citizens,” President Kenyatta said.
“We hope stability will soon be restored for the sake of the people of South Sudan, whose freedom was so painfully won,” he added.
Esipisu said the president had urged Kiir, first Vice President Dr Riek Machar and Vice President James Wani Igga to play the leadership roles the people of South Sudan expect them to.
“President Kenyatta urges President Kiir, First Vice President Machar and Vice President Wani to urgently move heavy weaponry and huge contingents of soldiers out of civilian spaces of the capital Juba,” Esipisu said.
A South Sudan government spokesman later said the situation had been brought under control. “At present the situation is calm,” Michael Makuei, minister of information, said in a broadcast by South Sudanese TV.