May 14, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan has alleged that a recently signed ceasefire deal is being used as a pretext by rebels to organise attacks on government troop positions, warning there will be consequences.
- South Sudanese army (SPLA) spokesperson Col. Philip Aguer says rebels are using the ceasefire deal to launch attacks on government positions (AP)
South Sudanese army (SPLA) spokesperson Col. Philip Aguer says the army has lodged a complaint with monitors from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the East African regional bloc mediating the peace process, following multiple attacks on government positions in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In an address to the heads of foreign missions, Aguer, who was flanked by the minister for foreign affairs, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said the matter had been brought to the attention of mediators.
“We believe the monitors will be able to monitor the areas where the violations are taking place, he said.
“We will not allow this ceasefire to be used by rebels to continue moving [and] continue attacking our positions,” he added.
On 9 May, South Sudan president Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar recommitted themselves to a January ceasefire deal that has so far failed to halt violence on the ground, signing a fresh peace pact in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in the presence of mediators.
The signing followed a meeting between the rival leaders brokered by IGAD – their first since political tensions erupted in violence in mid-December last year.
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, despite the renewed agreement violence has continued, with both sides accusing each other of violating its terms.
Earlier this week, Machar’s rebel group also lodged a formal complaint with IGAD over the government’s alleged violations of the newly signed deal.
Following his return from Ethiopia, Kiir said he had instructed soldiers under his command to remain in their current positions and not engage militarily with pro-Machar forces.
However, rebels claim the government retook Unity state capital Bentiu on Monday in violation of the ceasefire deal.
CALLS FOR DIPLOMATIC PRESSURE
Meanwhile, Marial said the attacks on government positions in Unity state and Jonglei’s Ayod county, a military outpost 30km south of Renk in Upper Nile represents lack of commitment to by rebel forces.
“If rebels attacked a town which is not supposed to be under them, it is the right of the government to protect that town, protect its citizens, which is the constitutional authority,” said Marial, referring to towns under government control when the ceasefire came into effect on Saturday.
“This is interpreted as if the two sides are violating and that is why I think it is very important to recognise what the mandate of any government is with regards to running a country,” he said in a briefing to diplomats opened to the press.
He reiterated the government’s commitment to abide by the peace agreement, calling on the UN and the wider international community to pressure rebels to respect the truce.