29 August 2014

South Sudan: Rebels Warn of 'Full-Scale' War As Sanctions Loom

Photo: JC McIlwaine/UN
Thousands of South Sudanese civilians are living in camps under the protection of United Nations peacekeepers

Kampala — South Sudanese rebels led by former vice-president, Riek Machar have warned of "full-scale" war against government forces, days after negotiations between the two rivals were pushed by East African regional mediators to 13 September.

Oyet Nathaniel Pierino, the chairman of the opposition's mobilisation team, claimed there was a "conspiracy" by some actors to derail ongoing talks.

"There is conspiracy by some members of the multi stakeholder dialogue and some actors in the peace talks to bury the aspiration of the South Sudanese people and keep the country in the state of confusion," Oyet told Sudan Tribune Friday.

The official also accused some members of the regional bloc (IGAD) of allegedly having different interests likely to undermine effort to achieve reforms in South Sudan through a negotiated settlement.

"We telling you that what have transpired in Addis Ababa in the last IGAD Summit is an old monkey trick and a wrong scene. If those who should mediate the talks have become negotiators themselves we question what their interest in the conflict is and this leaves the credibility of the forum in question," said the renowned academic.

He however said the opposition was ready for peace talks in order to find lasting peace in South Sudan, adding that they are not weak, but want peaceful means to resolve their differences and reunite the country.

"There is a clear case of vested individual and group interest which is overshadowing the talks itself at the expense of reforms, progress and peace agreement," said Oyet, who insisted president Salva Kiir's government was "buying time" to prolong talks for an end to war.

"We are warning that if the peace process does not hold, South Sudan will plunge into full scale civil war with all fronts active," he said.

He accused the South Sudanese president of creating an unfortunate war on 15 December, 2013, which has resulted into thousands of deaths with nearly 1.5 million people displaced.

"We therefore calling on all our reserves, youth, students, women, our supporters within and outside government and our gallant forces to be vigilant and protect your aspiration or else it are no more," said Oyet.

He further stressed that this was the last chance to put South Sudan on track and not power sharing as envisage by some quarters in the peace talks.

"South Sudan's problem is not about who wants power, how and when, but there is need to address the root causes of the current crisis embedded in the status quo," said the former University of Juba don.

The US-based Human Rights Watch, on Friday, said IGAD had missed an opportunity to reconcile the two rival factions as South Sudan as peace continues to elude the new nation at the brink of civil war.

Despite threats of sanctions from IGAD, both the US and European Union have already imposed travel bans and asset freezes for military leaders on both sides of the country's conflict.

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