11 May 2014

South Sudan: President Orders Army to Maintain Ceasefire With Rebels

Juba — South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has instructed forces loyal to his administration to abide by Friday's ceasefire agreement and halt military attacks on rebels allied to former vice-president, Riek Machar.

"I made it clear in Addis Ababa when we signed the ceasefire with Riek that the soldiers under my command will implement this agreement. I do not want our people to continue to die in this senseless war", president Kiir told members of his cabinet on arrival from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on Sunday.

"And as the president, I directed the general command of the SPLA [Sudan Peoples Liberation Army] forces loyal to my government to remain in their current positions and stop engaging with those loyal to Riek", added the president.

The South Sudanese leader was in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa for security talks with rebel leader Machar, which led to the signing of a peace agreement.

Presidential spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny confirmed that Kiir indeed ordered the army to start observing the ceasefire deal signed by the two rival leaders on Friday.

"The government will implement this agreement without hesitation. Orders have already been given out to the army to start observing arrangements of cessation of hostilities", Ateny separately told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.

South Sudan army spokesperson, Phillip Aguer claimed rebels attacked government troops in two separate areas in areas under their control within Unity and Upper Nile states, despite calls for both sides to fully respect the ceasefire agreement.

"The rebel of Riek Machar attacked only six hours after the ceasefire came into effect", Aguer told the state-owned SSTV.

But rebel spokesperson Brig. Gen. Lul Koang Ruai denied the SPLA claims, saying they were instead attacked by government forces in violation of the agreed ceasefire.

"The latest violation of the agreement to resolve the crisis in South Sudan shows that Kiir is either insincere or not in control of his forces", Ruai said on Sunday.

Sudan Tribune was, however, unable to independently verify the rival claims of attacks and no credible independent sources could confirm who remains in control of the Unity state capital, Bentiu. Internally displaced sources within the United Nations base in Rubkona area claimed the rebels control some parts of Bentiu town.

"They have divided the area. The government forces are in Rubkona airport and the rebels in Bentiu town. They are in the hospital and the residence of the governor and some other places", a source told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.

PUBLIC RELATIONS

Moses Laku, a native of Central Equatoria state said the recent accusations of the violation exposed the extent to which the two sides control their forces.

"This is what some people have been saying. They have expressed skepticism about their commitments to honouring the cessation of hostilities agreement. There have been fears whether the parties to the conflict would show serious commitment, since they are right now exchanging accusations of attack in number of locations in Unity and Upper Nile states", Laku told Sudan Tribune in an interview.

Deng Mathiang Deng, a native of Jonglei state said a stable ceasefire was only attainable if international peacekeepers and monitoring forces were deployed in hotspot areas.

"The two sides will never respect their pledges because it appears they have little influence and control over fighters whom they claimed their loyalties. And the only way to guarantee the stable ceasefire is to immediate consider deployment of the international peacekeeping and the monitoring force to ensure compliance", Deng said in a separate interview on Sunday.

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