South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar, Second Vice President Igga Wani and President Salva Kiir are now inside J1 presidential palace when gunfire is still raging.
“All we want to tell our public now is that they should remain calm. This incident will be controlled and measures will be taken so that peace is restored even to the heart of the city itself… that’s why we are sitting together now, the three of us,” the presidency said in a short statement released by the trio.
Kiir says he was meeting with Machar and second VP Igga about yesterday’s incident in Gudele when fighting broke out in Juba.
He says he was going to make reassuring statement trying to assure the civil population.
But the president says he does not know what is happening outside of J1.
“What is happening outside is something that we cannot explain to you. The three of us were sitting inside here,” Kiir says.
Heavy gunfire including artillery fire was heard from around the presidential compound since about 5:30 pm Friday evening.
Tanks were seen moving around the compound.
According to Kiir, the three men were meeting to discuss the incident of Thursday night when five soldiers were killed in a skirmish in Gudele between SPLA and SPLA-IO forces.
“What is happening outside is something that we cannot explain to you,” said Kiir.
“Three of us were sitting inside here meeting, discussing the situation of yesterday what happened in Gudele and then talking about what we can do in the implementation of the agreement and to build confidence among the forces and the civil population.”
“So now this thing have started before we could even finish and we were actually after finishing I was going to give a statement on the occasion of the independence of South Sudan tomorrow, and then Dr Riek was also going to make statement reassuring people about what happened yesterday.”
Machar repeated that the three men were meeting to discuss the recent incident, and appealed for citizens to remain calm.
“This is a very unfortunate incident which none of us really knows what has happened, all we want to tell our public now is that they should remain calm, they should remain calm, this incident also will be controlled, and measures will be taken so that peace is restored even to the heart of the city itself,” Machar said.
Machar said they will overcome this incident and that is why the three are sitting together.
For his part, Igga said: “We were addressing the issue of yesterday where the shooting actually happened so that we take concrete steps toward that and then we were entering into the occassion of tomorrow where the president was going to address you…and what happened outside none of us here knows, so we will have to really investigate and take really severe measures against anybody who started this uncalled for fight this evening.”
According to a witness, there is more heavy gunfire exchanged at Juba Bridge around Gumbo area, spreading toward Cherikat, causing citizens to flee.
James Magok Chilim, director for South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation, appeared on SSBC and asked the public not to run but to remain in their homes.