World Bulletin/News Desk
South Sudan's vice president, Riek Machar, dismissed on Friday rumors of a planned military coup, saying it would be "unwise" for army officers to attempt a takeover of the year-old state.
The speculation was serious enough to prompt South Sudan's President Salva Kiir to visit the headquarters of Sudan's army (SPLA) this week to warn that any successful coup leaders would be isolated internationally, according to the Sudan Tribune.
During a visit to New York to meet with potential investors, Machar laughed off the rumors of a coup as not a serious threat and said that a recently detained general had not been arrested for planning a coup, but for other issues.
"When I first heard of it, I dismissed it," he told Reuters. "The nature of the state of South Sudan is borne out of an exercise of (the) right to self-determination. ... It would be unwise for military officers to say 'there is a takeover.'"
South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in July 2011. The move came six months after a referendum agreed to under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war that left more than 2 million people dead.
Distrust between the neighbors runs deep and tensions erupted into fighting along the border in April, when South Sudan's army briefly occupied the Heglig oilfield, which is vital to Sudan's economy.
The two countries agreed late last month to set up a demilitarized border zone and resume oil exports from the landlocked south after South Sudan shut them down in a dispute with Sudan over transit fees.
The deal failed to resolve problems including where to draw the final border, what to do with the disputed Abyei area and how to end rebellions in both countries that each government blames the other for backing.
Machar said the government was working to resolve a small two-year-old revolt in eastern Jonglei state that has been further fueled by a heavy-handed government bid to collect thousands of weapons left from the civil war.
Rights groups have accused the army of shooting, torturing and raping people during the campaign.
"All those who committed atrocities were apprehended," Machar said of those allegations. "It did cause resentment. ... We are concerned about it. That area is developmentally backward. We want it to join the rest of South Sudan in development instead of being theater for conflict."
"We don't want to start a new state with a rebellion," he said of efforts to reach peace in the east.
Machar said he had been meeting with investors in New York to urge them to spend in South Sudan, one of the world's poorest countries, on agriculture to make the state the "breadbasket for East Africa."
"Our people, their expectations are so high, so great, that with the declaration of independence they want South Sudan to be at the same level with neighboring countries," he said. "This is our biggest challenge."
Presidential council has asked the Tobruk-based parliament to grant it an extra week to form unity govt under UN deal
'As we have seen in the tumult across the Middle East and North Africa, when governments do not lift up their citizens, it's a recipe for instability and strife,' US president says
'The passengers were intended for another airline, Turkish Airlines,' Daallo Airlines CEO says
Premier David Cameron's office fears that 'thousands of people' could be crossing into UK if the country leaves EU
According to an army source, Iraq is deploying thousands of troops hoping to retake the key northern city
'The idea is to send a message to migrants that there is a double fence so give up crossing illegally,' a senior army official says
A group of seven suspects have planned to stage attacks in the Russian capital, Saint Petersburg and the Sverdlovsk region, Russian FSB security service claims
A picture of Malcolm X with his travel companion and teacher of Islam - Shaykh Ahmed Hassoun
Riyadh has announced discussions between Saudi and Venezuelan oil minister over ways to boost oil prices
Fighting breaks out between Rwandan rebels and a local Mai Mai militia
Vienna is considering deploying troops and police to the Balkans to reduce the flow of refugees on the route between Turkey and Austria
The country's PM Trudeau is set to pull out Canada's six F18s from bombing Syria
The legislation giving the government control over Poland's public broadcasters and top court prompted a series of demonstrations and harsh criticisms both at home and across Europe
Thousands have protested in Sarajevo against a ban on wearing the hijab in courts and other legal institutions
Hamas in a short Twitter statement that Mahmoud Eshtewi, a local member of the group’s military wing, was killed after he confessed to spying for Israel.