January 29, 2014 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s government has urged the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional bloc presently mediating peace talks between the two rivals, to immediately deploy military experts to monitor ceasefire arrangements.
- South Sudanese army soldiers sit on a pick up truck during a patrol in Malakal on 21 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Harrison Ngethi)
South Sudan’s chief negotiator, Nhial Deng Nhial, said he had predicted that the ceasefire would not be complied with because the other side, rebel SPLM/A In Opposition, does not have direct command on its fighters in the ground.
"Even when we signed the ceasefire agreement in Addis Ababa, there was a feeling that it would not be complied with because of the belief that the other side does not have direct command of all the forces currently involved in the fighting", Nhial said.
The top negotiator further said the deployment of monitors is crucial to enforce the truce and to make it effective as the two parties trade accusations of violating the cessation of hostilities deal signed on 23 January.
"For the ceasefire to be effected, the IGAD member countries which are involved in the mediation, should expedite the process of the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) with the deployment of monitors”, Nhial told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday
He further said military teams representing the two sides would soon return to the venue of negotiation so that they participate in the discussions aimed at forming JTC which would be tasked with all military activities, specifically those relating to the verification and monitoring process of the truce.
After the signing of the cessation of hostilities, the mediators said they would work from 24 January to 7 February on the set up of the various mechanisms needed to implement the truce such as the JTC and the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MCM).
Meanwhile, South Sudan’s information minister, Michael Makeui Lueth, claimed at a separate news briefing on Tuesday that rebels have continued to violate the deal by carrying out multiple attacks in various places in the states of Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity.
"The rebel forces of renegade Riek Machar are still carrying out atrocities. They are still continuing with the attacks and the killing of innocent civilians now in the state of Jonglei, Upper Nile and unity. This is a clear violation of the ceasefire agreement which their leaders have signed with us", Lueth said in a statement broadcast by the state-owned South Sudan Television (SSTV) on Tuesday.
He did not name specific areas where the alleged attack was carried out by the rebels, and Sudan Tribune was unable to independently verify.
However, military sources in Jonglei State claimed on Wednesday that government troops clashed with the rebel elements at about 12 kilometres east of Bor town.
"Some of our forces who went for reconnaissance met and exchanged fire with the rebel elements yesterday, resulting to the injury of some of our comrades after inflicting heavy lost on the attackers’ side", a senior military officer in Bor told Sudan Tribune on the condition of anonymity.
REBEL FIGHTERS RETURNING
Colonel Philip Aguer, spokesperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), confirmed clashes between government troops and SPLM/A In Opposition rebels in Jonglei and Upper Nile states.
"The rebels have never stopped carrying out attacks on the positions of our forces in Jonglei and Upper Nile", Aguer said on Wednesday without elaborating on the details of the military engagements between the two sides since the cessation of hostilities was signed.
The SPLA officer said he did not receive any report about military engagements in Unity State capital, Bentiu and its environs since the beginning of the week.
"It has been quiet in Unity state. There has been no report of fighting there. Our forces are in full control of the general security situation and are now receiving back of some of rebels fighters. They have now received significant number", Aguer said without giving exact number of those rebel fighters who have returned to the fold of the government troops in the area.