Home | News    Wednesday 24 May 2017

South Sudan’s rival forces clash despite ceasefire declaration

May 23, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s rival forces clashed in Imatong, one of the country’s newly created states, a day after President Salva Kiir openly declared a unilateral ceasefire with the country’s rebels.

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Arms and light weapons have been used by both warring parties in South Sudan to commit abuses (Photo courtesy of SSANSA)

The rebel’s military spokesperson, William Gatjiath Deng claimed pro-government militias allied to the army attacked their Imatong base.

“The Juba regime movements and aggressions also followed a recent meeting in Juba between General Salva Kiir Mayardit and Lt. Gen J.J Okot at which Col Lotara was ordered to lead brutal and merciless Mathiang Anyor operations against the remaining civilian population of Ayaci county,” he told Sudan Tribune Tuesday.

He, however, said the rebel command under the sector 9 division, Lt. Gen Justine Akudo and Major General Anthony Osuru Ongwaja “defeated” pro-government forces along Kinyenga-Lobone road.

The rebel official also claimed dozens of the government-allied militias were killed, allegations Sudan Tribune could not easily verify.

“The remaining [members] of Juba regime elements fled towards Magwi. Another Lt. Col Mubarak Rueben was nearly apprehended during the operation, having narrowly escaped from Lyire, where he was sent to bribe people and destabilize the area for the JCE [Jieng Council of Elders] and its regime in Juba,” further said Gatjiath.

The rebel spokesperson castigated the national dialogue initiative President Kiir launched on Monday, saying it lacked representation.

The national dialogue, initiated by Kiir, is both a forum and process through which the people South Sudan shall gather to redefine the basis of their unity as it relates to nationhood, redefine citizenship and belonging, as well as restructure the state for national inclusion.

A 94-member steering committee for national dialogue was sworn in to start the work of bringing harmony and peace to the people of South Sudan. The committee co-chaired by Abel Alier and Angelo Beda Bangboru comprises of distinguished members of the country including religious leaders and professionals as well as politicians.

Kiir, however, vowed not to accept to return of his former deputy-turned rebel leader, Riek Machar over fears of further skirmishes.

Members of the armed opposition faction, their supporters and other political party members doubt the success of the national dialogue.

South Sudan has witnessed renewed clashes between forces loyal to South Sudan President Kiir and the armed opposition faction backing the country’s former First Vice-President, in spite of the August 2015 peace deal.

South Sudan has reportedly now become the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis with more than 1.8 million refugees, including one million children, having sought safety in Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic.

Last week, two United Nations agencies appealed to donors to step up support for people fleeing South Sudan as the $1.4 billion response plan remains 86% unfunded.

(ST)