February 25, 2014 (JUBA) – The head of South Sudan’s ruling party (SPLM)-In-Opposition has openly accused pro-government forces of allegedly violation the ceasefire agreement both parties committed themselves to in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa a month ago.
- The head of the rebel delegation, General Taban Deng Gai, signs a ceasefire agreement, ending more than five weeks of fighting in South Sudan following negotiations in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 23 January 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
Taban Deng Gai, in a statement issued on Monday, said they had officially notified regional leaders mediating talks between the two warring parties, but warned of possible escalation of the country’s conflict should the attacks on rebel positions persist.
“The Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM/SPLA) brings to the attention of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mediating envoys and the International Community the relentless violations, by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, of the Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) Agreement reached on 23rd January 2014,” Gai said in a statement.
“Our forces have tried their best to adhere to the agreement as a matter of principle, knowing that the silence of guns provides an advantage for our already suffering populations to recover and mourn their slain relatives in requisite serenity”, he added.
The rebels further accused President Salva Kiir of using “delayed tactics” to undermine the monitoring and verification mechanism of the ceasefire, which formed the basis of the truce signed in Addis Ababa as part of efforts to end the conflict, which has killed thousands.
Such a move, according to the head of the rebel delegation, allegedly enabled the South Sudanese army (SPLA) to “make a mockery” of the ceasefire and thus launch attacks on rebels.
But the spokesperson of the army, in an earlier interview with Sudan Tribune, accused the SPLM-In-Opposition forces of violating the agreed ceasefire, citing attacks on the oil-rich Upper Nile capital, Malakal, which the rebels claim to be in control.
“Our forces have always respected the cessation of hostilities agreement, but this has continuously been violated by the rebel forces of Riek Machar,” said Phillip Aguer.
The South Sudanese government spokesperson, Michael Makuei Lueth also told reporters in the capital, Juba last week that President Kiir’s leadership was committed to the cessation of hostilities agreement it signed with the SPLM-In-Opposition last month.
He also dismissed rebel claims that they had defeated pro-government forces in Malakal, saying the latter was simply determined to see that the ceasefire agreement was not violated.
ATTACKS FOREIGN ARMY
The rebels further stated that the “continuous heavy and active” presence of the Uganda Peoples’s Defense Forces (UPDF) in South Sudan not only contravenes the ceasefire, but also enhances President Kiir’s morale to continue carrying out his “repressive” and “autocratic” agenda.
“Lest it be forgotten, Uganda’s [Yoweri] Museveni had declared to ‘defeat’ our forces, and this explains their recalcitrance to heed to calls for his forces to pull out,” Gai said.
The rebels, in their statement, also claimed government forces had allied with the Sudanese rebel Justices and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) forces and allegedly launched a number of attacks on their bases and civilian targets in Unity and Jonglei states and in several Upper Nile locations, forcing them to respond in self- defence.
“We, therefore, reiterate our plea to IGAD and the International Community to be decisive in arm-twisting and restraining the regime and its Ugandan allies from their false belief that violence can enable them fulfill their selfish objectives,” the statement stressed.
Meanwhile, the SPLM-In-Opposition has reiterated its commitment to the on-going mediated peace process, to restore stability in the war-torn country, but said their struggle, which they started by “asserting democratic and civil means”, instead ended up being halted by “sinister autocratic” methods of President Kiir and cohorts in self-defence.
“Protection of lives of our suffering masses, while keeping an eye on securing a bright future for them, is our farsighted resolve,” the rebels stressed.