An attempted coup is underway in Juba, the capital of South Sudan pitting presidential guards against malcontents in the army and the police. Observers of the unfolding events in Juba point to the bad blood between President Salva Kiir and his former Deputy, Dr Riek Machar and other leaders.
Kiir fired Riek recently in power consolidation effort in the reclusive state. However, many voices opposed the move, which they saw as an attempt by Kiir to consolidate absolute political fiefdom in a new imperial state.
Reports indicate the heavy gunfire started at around early yesternight and has persisted till this morning.Â The Juba International Airport and embassies have been closed. Embassies have asked their nationals to stay at home and avoid unnecessary movement.
But the current crisis may have been occasion by President Kiir’s onslaught on members of his party, the SPLM.
On Saturday, Kiir launched a fierce rhetorical attack on the head of his own party, the SPLM, in the latest indication Â of serious rifts within the Juba government.
Kiir hit out at Secretary-General of the Sudan Peopleâ€™s Liberation Movement (SPLM) Pagan Amum during a speech at a meeting of the partyâ€™s council in Juba.
Kiir said the commission he had set up earlier this year within the SPLM to investigate allegations of mismanagement against Amum had recommended that the Secretary-General be relieved of his position.
However, he said he would submit the commissionâ€™s findings to the council in order to make a final decision.
Kiir fired Amum and his Vice-President Riek Machar in July, along with the rest of his cabinet. Many at the time interpreted Kiirâ€™s step as evidence of a growing power struggle within the newly-independent countryâ€™s ruling party.
Speaking exclusively toÂ Asharq Al-Awsat (London-based Newspaper covering the Sudans), Amum said that police prevented him from attending the SPLMâ€™s council meeting, for which he blamed President Kiir.
Amum said that the move was wrong because he is â€œmember of the politburo and the SPLM council,â€ and denounced the ban as a violation of the countryâ€™s constitution.
â€œI expect the worst,â€ he added, and claimed that South Sudan was currently suffering from an absence of the rule of law.
Amum also accused President Kiir of deviating from the SPLMâ€™s goals and claimed that he, along with a number of the SPLMâ€™s senior figures, were working to correct Kiirâ€™s mistakes.
â€œKiir has shown a dictatorial tendency since the death of the SPLMâ€™s leader and founder John Garang,â€ he said.
He said that Kiir had shown disregard of the SPLMâ€™s principles and had moved away from maintaining a democratic approach, turning the SPLM into an â€œorganization without a vision or orientation.â€
Amum added that the organizationâ€™s main concern had been to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement with Khartoum.
More details to follow.