South Sudan president warns army of punitive actions over ceasefire violation

From: Berhane Habtemariam <>
Date: Sun, 6 Sep 2015 23:39:44 +0200

September 6, 2015 (JUBA) - South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has unexpectedly warned officers of the army of punitive actions against them if they continued to violate ceasefire in the peace agreement he signed on 26 August with the former vice president, Riek Machar, revealing that there are some of his officers whose actions aimed at derailing the peace deal by taking advantage of reservations of his government over the accord.
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SPLA soldiers, from the 2nd Battalion pose at the SPLA headquarters in Nyang, in the county of Yirol East, on February 15, 2014 (Photo AFP/Fabio Bucciarelli)

He said people who pretended to be loyal to him and his government were behind the ceasefire violations.

“There are people who want to take advantage of our genuine concerns and reservations. They are pretending to be conducting themselves as nationalists and they aren’t acting with loyalty. These people are coming out, and any officer, no matter what position of service, showing lack of discipline will have to answer,” president Kiir told a tribal Jieng [Dinka] Council of Elders on Sunday.

“We have signed the peace [agreement] and we have to show our commitment, so that we are not portrayed as not interested in ending this war. They want to turn our people against us. We have to observe ceasefire requirements,” said the head of state in his first public reaction on ceasefire violations.

President Kiir made the comments admitting sabotage by some of his officers two days after the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reported that government’s attack helicopters attacked rebel positions on the west bank of the Nile near Malakal, capital of the oil-rich Upper Nile state.

Also the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) led by former vice president, Machar, alleged that they destroyed a number of war barges and gunboats which attacked their positions.

However, government spokesman, Michael Makuei Lueth, in an indirect refusal of the claim said one of the war barges exploded when a careless soldier lit a cigarette causing the explosion.

But president Kiir in his remarks said the barges came under attack by the rebel forces when they attempted to cross opposition controlled areas in Jonglei and Unity states.

US secretary of state, John Kerry, also called the South Sudanese leader on phone on Thursday, urging him to order forces to stop attacking rebel positions.

Kiir also told members of the Dinka elders, his tribesmen that the world was working to isolate his government unless they abided by the ceasefire and fully implement the peace deal with the armed opposition faction led by Machar.

“There are people in this country and in the region who are working to isolate us from our people by portraying themselves to be the ones who care about them and they are the ones who feel the suffering of our people more than us whom they have elected,” he further lamented.

“That was why they designed the peace [agreement] in the way that if we reject, they then go around the world and say look, they have rejected to sign the peace to stop the war and continue to claim they represent the people they have refused to stop the war and to end the suffering of their people,” he added.

The president, according to a presidential aide, made the remarks at his residence on Sunday during a meeting with some members of the Dinka council of elders who visited him to update him on the outcome of the meeting they held on Saturday where they discussed how they could reconcile and harmonise with the president their views which opposed key provisions in the peace deal.

President Kiir faces a division within his government as some senior political and army officials have been rejecting and criticizing the peace deal, with fears that they could be the ones that encourage ceasefire violations to try to spoil the implementation of the IGAD Plus compromise agreement.

United Nations Security Council is working on a US-led draft of sanctions that would be imposed on party seen to be violating the ceasefire or spoil implementation of the peace agreement.

Observers say Juba made a diplomatic mistake when president Kiir refused to comply with the 17 August deadline to sign the IGAD compromise peace agreement, making him a troublemaker in the eyes of the international community, while the opposition leader, Machar, came out as peace maker and earned respect in won the diplomatic manoeuver when he complied and signed the agreement unilaterally.

Received on Sun Sep 06 2015 - 17:39:45 EDT

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