Juba — South Sudanese government and rebels on Saturday traded accusations over the breaking of a ceasefire agreement they signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Thursday.
The deal, received with caution from the citizens, is supposed to halt military engagements between the two warring parties and pave the way for discussions about the root cause of the conflict, which has displaced over half a million people and claimed the lives of between 1,000 to 10,000 depending on different estimates.
"The rebel forces have not stopped carrying out atrocities. They are still continuing to attack our forces," South Sudanese Information and Broadcasting Minister Michael Makeui Lueth, said on Saturday on return to Juba from Ethiopia.
Minister Lueth, whose statement was broadcast by state-owned SSTV warned that government forces will not stand idle, if IGAD - the regional bloc tasked with the mediating the talks - takes to long to introduce concrete control measures.
"If nothing is done by the IGAD, then definitely our forces will not fold their hands," Lueth said. He claimed that rebels continue to carry out attacks because they "lacked a unified command".
"We are not surprised they carried out these attacks on our forces, because these rebels are undisciplined people. They have no regular force. They have no central command. In that case, it's not strange that they immediately violate (the agreement)," said the minister.
Col. Philip Aguer, the spokesperson of the Sudan People's Liberation Army loyal to the government, confirmed that fighting had occurred between government troops and rebels in Jonglei state.
"The rebels carried out attack on the positions of our forces today. It is a clear violation of the ceasefire which those who negotiated on their behalf have signed with our government", Aguer said Saturday.
"What this means is that the rebels who carried this attack are either operating out of control of those who negotiated the ceasefire or they have decided to violate it", he explained.
Fighting began on December 15 between forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar and South Sudanese army led by President Salva Kiir, following weeks of tension within the young nations ruling party.
However, a rebel assistant spokesperson denied that their forces carried out any attack on the positions of the government troops, accusing the latter of trying to cover up the army's attack on the positions held by rebels in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states.
"Our forces never carried out any attack on the positions of the forces loyal to the government of Salva Kiir. What Kiir's minister of information said is just a propaganda statement?" said Yien Mathew Chol, the assistant spokesperson of the rebel delegation, which signed the ceasefire agreement on Thursday.
"It is actually the government forces which have carried out the attack on the areas held by forces yesterday and again today. This is what they wanted to cover with these statements", Chol said.
Sudan Tribune was unable to independently verify claims by the both sides, although local officials and residents of Bor town, capital of Jonglei state, claimed they heard gunfire coming from two directions before wounded government soldiers were brought back from the frontline.
"I spoke to people in Bor town, including General Malual Ayom, and he said rebels carried out attack on SPLA positions today", a government official who hails from Bor town told Sudan Tribune on Saturday.
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