South Sudan: Rivals clash hours after ceasefire signed
South Sudan’s army and rebel fighters have accused each other of violating a ceasefire agreed by both sides, just hours after it came into effect.
The peace agreement, which was agreed during peace talks earlier this week, came into effect at 00:01 on Sunday morning. However, a spokesman for South Sudan’s main rebel group accused government troops of violating the ceasefire hours later. Meanwhile, the national army denies these claims, insisting it was rebel fighters who violated the agreement.
SPLA-IO accuses government forces
On Sunday afternoon, SPLA-IO spokesman, Lam Paul Gabriel, accused South Sudan’s national army of breaking the ceasefire earlier on in the day.
“This morning 24/12/2017 at about 6:00hrs, the Juba regime’s forces based in Koch County Centre of Lich State launched the most aggressive attack against our military position in Bieh Payam of the said County. The SPLA-IO forces repulsed the attackers and are now pursuing them to Koch Centre. As I write the fight is still on.”
The statement also accuses government troops of attacking rebel fighters in Yei country. Gabriel says the attacks show the government wants to prolong the country’s civil war and called upon the international community to make sure it is held accountable.
Government accuses rebels
Spokesman for South Sudan’s national army, Lul Ruai Koang, has denied the claims of Lam Paul Gabriel, insisting that it was the SPLA-IO that instigated the violence.
“It’s actually the opposite,” he told Al Jazeera. “The rebels violated the ceasefire today in Koch.”
Aside from accusing the rebel group of causing Sunday’s violence, he also accused opposition troops of ambushing an aid convoy in southern Amadi state on Saturday. He suggests that the violence indicates that the rebels are not in full control of their troops while saying the government would continue to respect the ceasefire.
Featured image: By Jason Patinkin (VOA) – http://www.voanews.com/a/government-soldiers-leave-juba-before-rebel-leaders-return/3286194.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56846864