Zim recalls South Sudan embassy staff

HARARE - Zimbabwe is keeping a skeleton staff at its embassy in South Sudan, as it monitors the volatile situation in the oil-rich East African country.

At least 1 000 people have been killed, with some estimates as high as 10 000, and more than 200 000 have been displaced.

Oil exports — key to South Sudan’s economy — have plummeted, adding to regional instability.

Joey Bimha, Zimbabwe permanent secretary for Foreign Affairs told the Daily News government had recalled its embassy staff in South Sudan, including the head of mission, Ambassador Kufa Chinonzva.

“We have recalled embassy staff and left only the essential staff like the accountant and the Charge d’ Affairs to monitor the situation,” Bimha said.

Chinonzva returned from Juba for the annual briefing and debriefing with Foreign Affairs early this month but did not return to his base due to the volatile situation there.

Fighting in South Sudan erupted early last month and President Salva Kiir blames a group of soldiers loyal to former vice-president Riek Machar, whom he fired in July last year amid a power struggle, for fanning divisions.

Machar’s loyalists tried to take power by force but were defeated, says Kiir, and after that they regrouped and are now launching a fresh assault on the state.

The United Nations argues that the violence in Africa’s newest State was “largely along ethnic lines.”

President of the UN Security Council, French Ambassador Gerard Araud, says as many as 20 000 people have taken refuge with the UN mission in the South Sudan capital of Juba.

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