Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn (left) greets president Salva Kiir of South Sudan in Addis Ababa on January 5 2013 - AFP

Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn (left) greets president Salva Kiir of South Sudan in Addis Ababa on January 5 2013 – AFP

January 24, 2014 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese presidency has issued a statement denying existence of a diplomatic row with Addis Ababa, following rumours that Juba had accepted an Egyptian request to support and harbour Ethiopian rebels during a recent visit of President Salva Kiir to Cairo.

“The allegations that the Ethiopian Government has expelled our diplomats against the background of the recent President Kiir’s visit to Egypt are a pure lie and a very cheap propaganda aimed at driving the wedge between the two sisterly countries. President Kiir’s visit to Egypt was purely based on bilateral relations between Egypt and South Sudan. It has nothing to do with anything concerning Ethiopia’s relationship with Egypt”, the release notes in part.

The statement penned by the presidential spokesperson says the visit of President Salva Kiir to Egypt was within the framework that permits any sovereign nation to establish diplomatic ties with more than one country at time on bilateral.

Ateny Wek Ateny said South Sudan’s relations with Egypt are historical since two countries were once governed by one colonial administration.

“The issue of Ethiopian’s rebels and whatever cause they might be fighting against the Ethiopian government has never crossed into President Kiir’s agenda with any political leader of any country before, even at the time when the rebel Riek (Machar) was living in Addis Ababa”, he added.

South Sudan, he explained, has very good and cordial relations with Ethiopia and so, it cannot plan, or even think or dream of Ethiopian armed opposition finding its way into South Sudan no matter who is to supply them with arms. “The story is a fake one, and very cheap propaganda to say the least. It is therefore aimed at creating the non-existing fear”.

The construction by the Ethiopian government of the Grand Renaissance Dam raised tensions with Egypt which relies entirely on the Nile water.

Ethiopia says the dam will not disrupt the river’s, flow stressing its purpose is only to produce electricity.

However, Addis Ababa also noticed a growing activities of the armed opposition groups in Cairo but the Egyptian government ignored its request to stop them.

Ethiopian officials pointed last year to the Egyptian and Eritrean role in the protests that sparked in Oromia and Amhara regions in November 2016.

Ateny claimed the allegations of support to Ethiopian rebels were created by armed opposition faction under the leadership and command of the former First Vice President, Riek Machar, to buy retaliation and allow them return to Ethiopia and use it as one of their conduit for carrying out military activities.

“It is the rebel of Riek who created the story in futile attempt to buy Ethiopian’s retaliation to allow the rebel Riek back to honeymoon in Ethiopia. But, as we commend the Ethiopian’s role in preventing Riek from using Ethiopia as his base closer to Pagak where he will cause havoc against our people, we would like to assure the Ethiopian, the government and the people that South Sudanese government does not wish to allow Ethiopian’s rebels to enter South Sudan for whatever reason. We are sovereign country and so we adhere to the norms and protocol that governs the relationship between countries,” he said.

(ST)

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