February 13, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudanese government army has been accused of continuing to attack bases of opposition fighters in violation of the permanent ceasefire agreement signed in August last year by warring parties in the country.
- South Sudanese SPLA soldiers in Pageri in Eastern Equatoria state on August 20, 2015 (Photo AFP/Samir Bol)
The armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) said their forces came under attack in different locations over the weekend, accusing President Salva Kiir’s government of the violations.
“SPLM/SPLA (IO) forces have been attacked on Saturday, 13th February, and Friday, 12th February, by government forces in different states and locations,” said James Gatdet Dak, official spokesman of the armed opposition leader, Riek Machar, in a statement he issued to media on Saturday.
Government forces, he said, attacked their military base in Magwi county of Eastern Equatoria state at around 5:00am local time on Saturday, but were repulsed. He also added that reports from the ground indicated that government forces were preparing for further offensive on the opposition forces.
Dak also cited that another attack took place earlier on Friday when government forces in Western Equatoria state attacked opposition forces in Ezo county and Rangu payam, hundreds of kilometres west of the national capital, Juba.
“It is unfortunate that the government or elements within its leadership are not committed to peace and continue to provoke the situation,” he said.
Early this week, SPLM-IO also reported multiple attacks on their bases in the oil rich Upper Nile state, now divided into three states. They said government troops attacked their base in Wadekona county, home to Shilluk ethnic group, and shelled their designated cantonment area, south of the state capital, Malakal.
The opposition faction also claimed that they spotted thousands of government troops moving out from Pariang county in Unity state towards Kodok areas.
“This act of aggression to try to capture more territories is a clear violation of the agreement on the Permanent Ceasefire,” he said.
The parties have not yet agreed on cantonment areas in which to assemble rival forces across the country, pending reunification process of the two armies per the provisions of the peace agreement. The process to unify the two rival forces will take at least 18 months.
The parties too have not implemented the security arrangements for the capital, Juba, and states capitals, where demilitarization is supposed to take place and joint police and military forces deployed.
In accordance with the peace agreement, there will be two separate armies during the first half of the transitional period of 30 months prior to elections. The rival forces will be assembled in cantonment areas to be agreed upon by the parties to the peace agreement.
Both President Kiir and his first deputy, Machar, will command the two separate armies with separate national structures headed by their two respective chiefs of general staff.