The South Sudan National Security Service (NSS) has released a report that describes the links of some politicians and military officers with the start of the civil war in the country.
The report is the first record to be disclosed following an order by President Salva Kiir for a declassification review of materials that have remained out of the public view in the 2013 and 2016 conflict. The document was released by the National Security Agency and the UK-based law firm BRL.
The report has stood by its claim that an attempted coup by Riek Machar and other politicians was the cause of the 2013 and 2016 conflicts despite the African Union finding no evidence for this narrative.
The AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan said in its report released in October 2014: “From all the information available to the Commission, the evidence does not point to a coup.”
The Commission further said the war started with a fight between members of the presidential guard in Juba on 15 December 2013.
The new document was released hours after Kiir held a press conference in the capital, Juba, Monday to update the public on the security tension in the capital and the status of the 2018 peace agreement.
Kiir said that for the implementation of the 2018 peace agreement to be genuine, transparency into the root cause of the 2013 and 2016 conflicts was needed.
“For this reason, I am directing the National security services and its partners to declassify all information about the conflict genesis in their possessions. These include audio intercepts and personal accounts. This is very important so that the people of South Sudan know the truth and judge for themselves,” said Kiir.
He added, “I need to state clearly that those who will be implicated by the declassified information that is going to be released are guaranteed the presidential pardon. So there is no cause for alarm over this,”
There was heavy military deployment in Juba on Sunday near First Vice President Riek Machar’s home, highlighting growing security tensions. But Kiir said, “the presence of security forces in the streets does not mean that there is insecurity in Juba.”
Government troops and forces loyal to Machar have recently clashed in Upper Nile and Unity states.
Government defends the report
Ateny Wek Ateny, President Salva Kiir’s spokesperson, told Radio Tamazuj this morning that the declassified report is about intercepted telephone conversations and meetings in 2013 and 2016 by people who were planning a coup or change of government by force of arms.
“Also the law says that after 5 years such information is supposed to be declassified so that it is made public and the people can know what happened,” said Ateny. “He [Kiir] also gave the people who were involved in planning these violent coups an amnesty because he forgave them.”
Asked why the declassification is being done now, Ateny said: “The government has been implementing the peace agreement. Also, there has been an argument by many entities and people that the root causes of the conflict have to be investigated and revealed so that the public is aware of them.”
On if it was not merely a tactic of diversion and how it will help in the implementation of the peace deal, Ateny said: “No, it will not divert the attention of the people from the implementation of the peace agreement.”
Read the full report in the download below.