February 19, 2014 (WASHINGTON) – The US State Department condemned the resumption of fighting in the capital of Upper Nile state Malkal, saying it is a clear violation of a cessation of hostilities agreement signed last month between the South Sudanese army and SPLM-In-Opposition rebels.
- South Sudanese army soldiers sit on a pick up truck during a patrol in Malakal on 21 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Harrison Ngethi)
"We are deeply concerned by reports of extensive fighting in and around Malakal, which this continued fighting – let me be very clear – is a blatant violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement" said, Marie Harf deputy State Department spokesperson on Wednesday.
"We condemn the failure of both parties to abide by the terms of agreement and call on both parties to end any military actions aimed at the other, and to finalize an agreement on the implementation details of the monitoring and verification mission", she further told reporters at the daily press briefing.
The government and rebels signed a cessation of hostilities deal brokered by IGAD mediators on 23 January, but since it has been breached on daily basis by the warring parties.
Harf urged the two parties to observe the truce and to finalise an agreement on the implementation details of the monitoring and verification mission.
The truce signatories also failed to resume the second round of peace talks. The rebel SPLM-In-Opposition says Juba did not implement the 23 January deal which provides to the release all the political prisoners and to withdraw foreign troops.
Speaking about the presence of Ugandan troops in South Sudan, Harf reiterated American call to withdraw these forces from South Sudan.
"We’re urging the redeployment or phased withdrawal of foreign forces invited by either side", she said.
The American diplomat pointed out that Washington recognised the "role that Ugandan forces have played in helping defend critical infrastructure in Juba, on one of the main roads", adding that however believe that "it’s time for those forces to begin a phased withdrawal".
The State Department on 8 January had already said "deeply concerned" by the violations of the cessation of hostilities and urged to withdraw the Ugandan forces, warning of "the serious consequences which could result from any regionalization of this conflict".
Ugandan army spokesperson, Paddy Ankunda, wrote several shorts statements on Twitter expressing the refusal of his country to pull out their troops from South Sudan.
"What if violence rolls back into Bor, Juba after UPDF withdraw, will the US be there to help?, He wrote on 10 February. Eight days later wondered “what is behind” this demand to withdraw Ugandan troops before to add "What if there is resurgence of violence?".