July 21, 2014 (JUBA) – Several world leaders on Monday condemned what they described as South Sudan rebels’ violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement it renewed with government in May.
- South Sudan’s rebel leader and former vice-president, Riek Machar, (C) attends an interview in Upper Nile state’s Nasir on 14 April 2014 (Photo: AFP/Zacharias Abubeker)
The chairperson of the African union commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said uncounted lives were lost during the attack largely blamed on opposition forces loyal to South Sudan former vice-president Riek Machar.
“The attack is all the more reprehensible as it took place against the background of renewed efforts by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), with the support of the African union, the united nations and other member states of the international community, to move forward the peace process”, Zuma said in a statement.
“The attack is in violation of the recommitment made by both parties, in Addis Ababa, on 9 May, 2014, to fully comply with the cessation of hostilities agreement”, she added.
The two warring parties, Zuma stressed, should “immediately” return to the negotiating table, while specifically urging the opposition forces of fully comply with all agreements they signed with government.
Fresh clashes occurred between the two rival forces in Nasir, a strategic Upper Nile state town, with both sides claiming to be in control of the region. The United Nations, however, said most of Nasir appears to be under the control of opposition forces, apart from the South Sudanese army (SPLA) barracks, located west of the town.
The AU Commission chairperson urged both parties to respect the integrity of the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM), as well as to guarantee the safety of its monitors, deployed in various locations of the country.
Similarly, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon expressed deep concerns over the attack urging Machar to cease immediately all offensive operations on Nassir and other points. He further called on South Sudan government to desist from launching a counter-offensive.
The two parties should stop the violence immediately, reconvene political negotiations and demonstrate the political will necessary to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict, he said.
The United States also condemned South Sudanese opposition forces’ ground attack on pro-government army positions, saying such attacks violated the 9 May and 10 June commitments to cease hostilities.
“The people of Nasir, as with civilians all across South Sudan, have suffered from frequent and horrific acts of violence and human rights abuses since fighting broke out in mid-December, causing widespread displacement and a worsening humanitarian crisis as civilians fear returning to their homes,” Marie Harf, the deputy department spokesperson, said in a statement.
“With famine conditions looming in some conflict-affected areas of South Sudan as early as August 2014, it is increasingly urgent that both parties immediately recommit themselves to inclusive, political negotiations”, she stressed.
Rebel attacks on Nasir, she said, were “unacceptable” and that perpetrators on both sides must be held accountable.
In April, US president Barack Obama issued an executive order, which stated that those who threaten peace, commit human rights abuses, or obstruct humanitarian operations could face sanctions.