JOUR­NEY TO SAFETY

Obama warns against any at­tempt to seize power by mil­i­tary force

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AGEN­CIES in Juba, South Su­dan, Nairobi, Kenya and Bei­jing

Chi­nese work­ers evacuated from South Su­dan ar­rive in Nairobi, Kenya, on Satur­day, as South Su­dan is on the brink of a civil war. Hun­dreds of peo­ple have been killed in a week of fight­ing, which has spread from the cap­i­tal Juba to oil fields far­ther north.

World lead­ers have stepped up calls for South Su­dan’s feuding politi­cians to end fight­ing that has pushed the coun­try to the brink of civil war, af­ter four US ser­vice­men were wounded when their air­craft came un­der fire.

United Na­tions chief Ban Ki-moon called on Sun­day for an end to vi­o­lence in South Su­dan, where the death toll is mount­ing from fight­ing be­tween forces loyal to the pres­i­dent and his sacked deputy.

“I de­mand that all po­lit­i­cal, mil­i­tary and mili­tia lead­ers stop hos­til­i­ties and end the vi­o­lence against the civil­ians,” Ban said.

He called on Pres­i­dent Salva Kiir and his ri­val, for­mer vi­cepres­i­dent Riek Machar, to “find a po­lit­i­cal way out of this cri­sis” and or­der their fol­low­ers to lay down their arms.

Ear­lier, US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama warned against a coup at­tempt, in a state­ment that came af­ter four US ser­vice­men were wounded when the air­craft they were fly­ing in came un­der fire on their way to help evac­u­ate US cit­i­zens in South Su­dan.

Three CV-22 Osprey air­craft were dam­aged in the at­tack, forc­ing them to di­vert to Uganda. The wounded were then flown to Nairobi for med­i­cal treat­ment and are now in “sta­ble con­di­tion”, the Pen­tagon said in a state­ment.

The United States has also de­ployed 45 com­bat-equipped troops to South Su­dan to pro­tect its em­bassy and per­son­nel.

“Any ef­fort to seize power through the use of mil­i­tary force will re­sult in the end of long­stand­ing sup­port from the United States and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity,” the White House said on Satur­day.

Obama stressed that South Su­danese lead­ers “have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to sup­port our ef­forts to se­cure Amer­i­can per­son­nel and cit­i­zens in Juba and Bor”, the cap­i­tal and a rebel-held flash­point town.

Evac­u­at­ing Chi­nese

The at­tack un­der­lined the in­creas­ingly dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion in South Su­dan, where at least one UN base has also come un­der at­tack in re­cent days — with the deaths of two In­dian peace­keep­ers and pos­si­bly dozens of civil­ians.

Chi­nese com­pa­nies in the coun­try have also been evac­u­at­ing per­son­nel.

Zhang Lei, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Blue Star Con­struc­tion Co (South Su­dan), said the com­pany is mov­ing its 20 Chi­nese em­ploy­ees to Kam­pala, the cap­i­tal of Uganda.

“We are try­ing to get air tick­ets but it’s quite dif­fi­cult as many for­eign­ers are also leav­ing the coun­try,” he said.

“Al­though the se­cu­rity in Juba is still ac­cept­able, we have no idea where the sit­u­a­tion is lead­ing.”

OIL FLOW ‘UN­AF­FECTED’

The flow of oil from South Su­dan through north­ern pipe­lines has been un­af­fected by a week of fight­ing on south­ern soil, Juba’s am­bas­sador to Khar­toum said on Sun­day.

“Noth­ing hap­pened to the oil,” Am­bas­sador Mayen Dut Wol said.

Oil is “flow­ing peace­fully”, the am­bas­sador said, as en­voys from the United States and Nige­ria pre­pared to fly into the South as part of ef­forts to avert all­out civil war.

Zhang said the work­ers would not go far as they have sev­eral con­struc­tion projects un­der­way in South Su­dan, and he does not think the sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try will de­te­ri­o­rate to civil war.

The Chi­nese em­bassy in Juba said there are more than 2,300 Chi­nese work­ing in South Su­dan and there has been no de­ci­sion to evac­u­ate them, but the em­bassy has is­sued warn­ings and helped Chi­nese in con­flict zones move to safer re­gions.

Chi­nese Na­tional Petroleum Cor­po­ra­tion said ap­prox­i­mately 200 Chi­nese em­ploy­ees re­turned to China via Nairobi on two char­tered air­planes on Sun­day, but 500 staff re­main work­ing in South Su­dan.

A diplo­mat who asked to re­main anony­mous said around 600 Chi­nese na­tion­als have left South Su­dan since the es­ca­la­tion of the con­flict in mid-De­cem­ber, but many of those move­ments were due to reg­u­lar work shifts and an­nual leave.

Oil pro­duc­tion ac­counts for more than 95 per­cent of the coun­try’s fledg­ling econ­omy.

The United States, Bri­tain, Kenya and Uganda also have been evac­u­at­ing their na­tion­als.

PHOTO BY MENG CHENGUANG / XIN­HUA

GORAN TOMASEVIC / REUTERS

Sol­diers from the Su­dan Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army jump from a ve­hi­cle in Juba, South Su­dan, on Sun­day.

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