January 9, 2014(mtv)–South Sudan’s young democracy risks “shattering” amid fierce fighting which has cost over 1,000 lives, a U.S. official warned Thursday, adding Washington had no evidence there had been an attempted coup.
Speaking on the third anniversary of the nation’s independence, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Africa Linda Thomas-Greenfield told lawmakers: “Today, tragically, the world’s youngest country and undoubtedly one of its most fragile democracies is in danger of shattering.”.
The unrest in the world’s newest nation began on December 15 as a clash between army units loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to ex-vice president Riek Machar.
But Thomas-Greenfield told the Senate Foreign Relations committee that “we have not seen any evidence that this was a coup attempt.”
Rather she said the eruption of violence had been “the consequence of a huge political rift” in the country.
“Each day that the conflict continues , the risk of all-out civil war grows as ethnic tensions rise… and those who have remained on the sidelines are pulled into the conflict,” she said.
“Political rivalries have taken on ethnic dimensions, atrocities are being committed, and men, women, and children are caught in the crossfire. This is not the future for which the people of South Sudan voted,” she said.
Acknowledging that access across the country was difficult for aid agencies, she said that the “scale of the atrocities” was not yet known.
“Stopping the violence, and ensuring that Africa’s newest nation continues to move forward rather than back wards, is of highest priority to the United States and the international community,” she added.