November 20, 2011 (NAIROBI) — South Sudan rebel leader, George Athor, on Sunday vowed more violence against the government in the newly independent state after the failure of secrets talks held this week in Nairobi with the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.
- Southern Sudan rebel leader George Athor, speaks during a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011. (AP)
Athor rebelled against the government after he was declared the loser in the April 2010 governmental elections in Jonglei state against the incumbent governor, Kuol Manyang Juuk, whom he accused of allegedly rigging the vote.
On independence day, South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir declared a public amnesty to all the armed groups who had rebelled against the government after April 2010 elections.
Athor who was the SPLA Deputy Chief of General Staff for Political and Moral Orientation, signed a ceasefire agreement with Juba in January 2010, days before the referendum on self-determination to facilitate the run of a process he supported. However, Juba has accused him many times of being backed by Khartoum’s government.
Speaking to the press in Nairobi after secret negotiations with the government, George Athor posed four conditions for peace with the government stressing that his movement is determined to pay more sacrifices if needed to for peace and democracy.
"People must die so we have peace, we have democracy," Athor said in a press conference held in Nairobi. "Sacrifices have to be made," he stressed before to point an accusing finger towards Juba, saying the government there refuses to cooperate to achieve peace in the South Sudan.
"There is a grave need for peace in South Sudan but unfortunately the other side were not cooperating," went on the former SPLA general, who was chosen last April to lead a coalition council of six rebel groups in the new state.
The renegade general disclosed he met with President Salva Kiir during his recent visit to Nairobi where he reiterated his demand for new general elections in South Sudan. He also urged the formation of a new government in which his group would get "two or three" ministerial posts, until the organisation of the vote.
Athor further demanded financial compensations for the victims of the conflict with the government in his area and to develop it. He did not elaborate on the requested money but pointed out the need for schools and hospitals.
The rebel leader said the South Sudanese government negotiating team had rejected his demands. But, he said President Kiir was "positive," underlining that "that was not the same for the rest of the delegation."
Athor said they had demanded a third party to guarantee the implementation of any political agreement, and the reparations for "the losses people have suffered." Different sources said that Juba declined a US offer to mediate the conflict with the rebel leaders preferring to hold direct and separate talks with the armed groups.
In May 2010, weeks after the start of Athor’s rebellion, the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) at the time proposed to broker a deal between the parties but Juba refused the proposition.
Athor after positing his conditions and ideas about the peace process told reporters that his rebels are peace lovers who do want a negotiated settlement for the conflict.
"We are ready for talks as soon as they are," he said, adding, "we can reach an agreement because ultimately we don’t think that this can be resolved militarily."
Juba negotiated separate agreements with two rebel leaders. On 4 August Peter Gatdet returned to Juba shortly after the announce of a peace deal in Nairobi. However his group, South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) rejected the pact saying they are not part of it.
Rebel leader, Abdel Bagi Ayii Akol, also returned to Juba last October where he announced his acceptance of a presidential amnesty and said he was determined to work for peace and stability in the South Sudan.