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NAS leader says South Sudan revitalized pact did not bring peace

March 2, 2019 (JUBA) - The leader of the armed opposition National Salvation Front (NAS) accused the South Sudanese government of continuing to breach human rights, refuting statements by the foreign minister before the United Nation’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva last February.

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Thomas Cirillo Swaka (Photo Reuters)

In response to a report by Foreign Minister Nhial Deng Nhial to the Council about the situation of human rights in the country, Thomas Cirilo dismissed that the revitalized peace agreement has allowed a return to peace in South Sudan.

"The realities on the ground show that there’s no peace in the country and fighting is going on as we speak," Cirilo said in a 3-page letter to the UNHCR President Coly Seck dated on 1st March 2019.

"Perhaps the current tragedy in the Yei River area where tens of thousands of civilians fled their homes seeking safety in the neighbouring countries refutes the Government’s false claims," he further said.

The holdout rebel leader went to say that chief of staff of the government army SSPDF and SPLM-IO deputy chief of staff agreed in a press conference held on17 January to carry out joint attacks on his fighters, in a clear violation to the cessation of hostilities agreement

"The NAS forces have since come under relentless attacks by the SSPDF and the militia affiliated to it. The activities carried out by the NAS forces were legitimate and done In self-defence and for the sake of protecting the civil population and their properties," he said.

NAS and four other factions refused to sign the revitalized peace agreement saying it failed to address their demand for a genuine autonomy.

"The majority of the South Sudanese people want the adoption of federalism as the system of governance that would facilitate the devolution of powers to the states and people.

The signed peace agreement "maintains the so-called Decentralised system of governance which is nothing but a dictatorship In disguise," he said.

"Moreover, the deal does not facilitate the total overhaul of the security sector which is dominated by one ethnicity out of 64. Most worryingly, accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity has been completely ignored."

The South Sudan special Envoy for South Sudan Ismail Wais on 25 February met with NAS leader to discuss ceasefire and ways to resume talks with the government.

Also, the South Sudan National Democratic Alliance (SSNDA) which is chaired by Cirilo, will hold a meeting with the special envoy in the upcoming days to discuss the peace process.

The holdout groups previously rejected injunctions by the IGAD to sign the revitalized agreement, however they recently welcomed its readiness to listen to their demands.