June 22, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudanese rebels led by the ex-deputy president, Riek Machar, have accused Salva Kiir’s government of allegedly violating the Status Mission Agreement (SOMA) after two officers representing the rebels were prevented from flying to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Saturday to attend a training.
Military spokesperson for the rebels, Brig Lul Ruai Koang in a press release he issued on Sunday said the two officers, Col. Gathon Jual and Col. Daniel Gatbel, were detained at Juba airport, their passports confiscated and threatened for unspecified action against them.
The two officers are part of the joint Monitoring and Verification Team (MVT) in South Sudan and based in Juba to represent the rebels. They are assigned to Bentiu and Malakal, respectively, to monitor the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement signed between the SPLM/A in Opposition and the government.
Koang explained that their travel to Addis Ababa was organized by the chairperson of the MVT to attend the training.
“Preventing them from leaving for Addis Ababa where they were due to attend training on Monitoring Process contravened and contradicted government’s own acceptance of the establishment of the mission with understanding that the MVTs will conduct verification under the guidance of the JTC through on-site monitoring and in accordance with the CoH,” Koang said in a statement.
The two officers, he said, were released by the security operatives at the airport only after the intervention of the MVT chairperson.
“In the light of uncalled for, unwarranted harassment and unnecessary security threats on the lives of our officers, the Military Leadership of SPLA (Opposition) calls upon IGAD to put more pressure on Kiir’s regime to implement all aspects of SOMA in good faith before the movement takes unilateral measures to ensure safety of its members,” he warned.