29 December 2013

South Sudan's Rebels Say Committed to Dialogue, Warn 'March to Juba' If Salva Kiir Curtails Peace

A rebel militia group known as the "White Army" is marching on the city of Bor, dampening hopes for a cease-fire in the conflict-stricken country. ( Resource: South Sudan Conflict Worsens As Rebels March On Key City )

Bor — The defected SPLA forces loyal to former South Sudanese Vice president Dr. Riek Machar say they are committed to peaceful solution to the current political crisis in the country.

In a 'press statement' seen by the South Sudan News Agency, the rebel forces said they are in control of Greater Upper Nile states, namely Unity, Jonglei, and Upper Nile. However, they admitted that some areas are still controlled by Kiir's forces.

"Dr. Machar is committed to dialogue as he has already nominated his negotiation team with the precondition of releasing all the detainees first", the statement reads in part.

"In the event Salva continues to be obstinate curtailing efforts for dialogue as is the case, then our only option will be to march to Juba", warns the statement.

The statement comes just one day after leaders of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) met in Kenya capital, Nairobi, to try to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing political crisis.

"As of today Saturday, December 28th, 2013, the SPLM/A forces under the leadership of Dr. Riek Machar Teny are in control of the Greater Upper Nile States of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei. There are still some pockets of counter attacks in Northern Upper Nile Counties, but all the oil fields in both Unity and Upper Nile states are under our control", said the statement.

The rebel forces also said that Juba has been bombing their positions in Upper Nile, Jonglei, and Unity.

"Salva forces continue use aircraft to bomb areas of Jonglei yesterday afternoon. He also continues attacks on Malakal town and border areas of Bentiu with Warrap as corroborated by Salva Army Spokesman yesterday", adds the statement.

In the press release, the defected forces denied that they were defeated by the government forces; instead they said that they withdrew from Jonglei State capital, Bor, on December 24, due to strategic reasons.

"Our forces briefly withdrew from Bor Town, the Jonglei State Capital on December 24, 2013 for tactical reasons, and it is true that there is presence of Salva Kiir forces in the town center", asserted the statement.

The United Nations (UN) estimated that 1000 people have died in the conflict and the number could be higher.

Fighting erupted in Juba on December 15 after deep political differences between senior members of the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) party.

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