October 2, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA/JUBA) – South Sudanese military and rebels on Thursday accused each other of breaking a fragile ceasefire agreement and portraying the other as the aggressor.
- Rebel fighters aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar gather in a village in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state on 8 February 2014 (Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)
In Juba, the spokesperson of the government army, Col. Phillip Aguer accused the rebel SPLM-in-opposition of hostile activities in various places in the Upper Nile state region, including shelling and carrying out attacks on their positions.
“They (rebel forces) are in it again. They have been shelling positions of our forces in Unity states, in Renk, in Doleib hills and in positions of our forces around Ayod,” Aguer told reporters on Thursday.
Aguer further said that the troops maintain their positions in all the attacked positions stressing that they have the right to fight in self-defence in the event they are attacked in their positions by the rebels.
On the other hand, the rebel military spokesperson, Brig Lul Ruai Koang, issued a press statement on Thursday accusing government troops of shelling several positions under the control of their fighters in the troubled Unity and Upper Nile states.
“Government troops shelled our defensive positions on 30th September 2014 at Kuer Guina, Thou-Maan-Gor and Wang-Kei military outpost in Guit, Rupkona and Mayom Counties, Unity State,” he said in a statement seen by Sudan Tribune.
He claimed that there have been increased unusual movement of government troops and equipment in and around Bentiu, Renk, Dolieb Hills and Ayod.
Koang further accused the government of preparing for offensives against the rebels despite the ongoing peace talks in the Ethiopian northern town of Bahir Dar.
“All these are clear indications that the loyalists are preparing for major offensive operations across Greater Upper Nile State,” he added.
The rebels’ spokesperson said the shelling came two days after government troops shelled a relief centre at Kamel in Pigi county of Jonglei State.
The warring parties signed a ceasefire in January 2014, a month after the eruption of hostilities and recommitted themselves to stop the fighting and allow humanitarian assistance last May.
US special envoy Donald Both warned this week that the two warring parties could face UN sanctions should they continue to violate the cessation of hostilities agreement and not reach a peace agreement.
“The continuing conflict continues to undermine their interests more than anybody else’s other than the South Sudanese.” Booth said.
“They also understand the danger of ungoverned or lightly governed spaces and so they don’t want to see South Sudan go in that direction,” he added.