By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
May 11, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudanese rebels led by former vice-president Riek Machar have lodged a formal complaint with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) over alleged violations of a newly signed ceasefire agreement.
- Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn (R) looks on as South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar (C) and president Salva Kiir (L) exchange signed peace agreement documents in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 9 May 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)
President Salva Kiir and Machar signed the new peace pact on Friday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, where they recommitted themselves to ending hostilities in the country and allowing humanitarian access to affected communities.
The agreement followed a meeting between the rival leaders brokered by IGAD, the East African regional bloc mediating between the two warring factions – their first since fighting erupted in mid-December.
The signing of the agreement had raised hopes for a peaceful resolution to the almost five-month-old conflict, which erupted after political tensions turned violent.
However, rebel spokesperson Yohanis Musa told Sudan Tribune that government forces had launched attacks on their positions in the oil-rich northern states of Upper Nile and Unity in breach of the ceasefire agreement.
Musa said his group had since filed a complaint with IGAD over the alleged truce violations.
He accused the Kiir government of lacking commitment to implement the newly signed roadmap for peace and urged his forces to refrain from any further attacks, warning that the deal was at risk of collapsing.
With the latest agreement failing to halt fighting on the ground, both sides have traded tit-for-tat allegations of ceasefire violations.
Kiir and Machar failed to hold direct talks following their meeting as expected on Friday, signing the IGAD-proposed draft peace agreement after separate consultations with IGAD officials including Ethiopian prime minister and IGAD chair Hailemariam Desalegn.
Regional observer Girmay Sahle has criticised IGAD for allowing the draft agreement to be signed without first bringing the two sides together for face to face talks.
He also expressed doubts the signed deal was genuine and questioned IGAD’s commitment to the peace process.
“I feel like the two major actors (Kiir and Machar) were pushed to sign the peace deal as a favour for IGAD to maintain recognition for its efforts on the South Sudan peace process,” Sahle said.
Sudan Tribune has learnt that the two rival political leaders are due to meet for the second time next month for further de-escalation talks and discussions on the formation of a transitional government.
Rebel spokesperson Lul Ruai Koang told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that pro-government forces shelled their positions in Upper Nile state on Saturday evening (local time), adding that rebels had also repulsed an attack on Guit county.
Meanwhile, there are conflicting reports over which side is currently in control of Unity state capital Bentiu following heavy fighting in and around the town over the weekend.
The UN has accused both the South Sudanese government and rebel forces of committing crimes against humanity, including mass killings and gang rape.
Thousands of people have died in the conflict, which has also displaced more than 1.3 million.
S. Sudan’s rival SPLM leaders commit themselves to ending war
S. Sudan rebels accuse army of occupying Rubkotna despite truce agreement
S. Sudan army, rebels trade accusations over ceasefire violations