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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Regular 'blame game' in South Sudan over cease-fire violations

by Julius Gale JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The South Sudanese army and the main rebel group have accused each other of breaking a truce that came into effect on Dec. 24.

The cease-fire agreement signed between the South Sudanese government and several rebel groups on Thursday last week was brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African regional bloc.

The truce asked warring parties to stop military operations and keep forces in their bases while calling for release of political detainees.

Lul Ruai Koang, Spokesman for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) told Xinhua Wednesday that rebels loyal to the country’s former deputy president Riek Machar launched multiple attacks on government-controlled areas in northern and southern parts of the country between Dec. 22 and 25.

He said the rebels, known as Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), attacked the town of Koch during Christmas Eve and further carried out similar attacks in the regions of Kajo-Koji and Yei on Dec. 25.

"This is a very serious violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement because their intention is to capture more territory from the SPLA before the peace monitors arrive for verification," Lul said.

He said the SPLA would not go into offensive as they still respect the terms of the truce, urging the IGAD to investigate the latest escalation in violence across the country.

"It is our right to defend ourselves from hostile forces. So we call upon IGAD to investigate and do verification so that they know who violated the cessation of hostilities agreement," he added.

Lam Paul Gabriel, SPLA-IO deputy military spokesperson, however, accused the government of launching attacks on their bases in many parts of the country.

"Our forces repulsed the attackers and pursued them to their base in Kansuk where more than 20 of them lost their lives and several injured. Our forces also destroyed their store full of weapons and ammunition," Lam said in a statement posted on his Facebook page.

The warring factions had previously violated several cease-fires since the conflict erupted four years ago.

In his Christmas massage, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir promised peace and stability in the war-torn East African nation in 2018.

South Sudan has been embroiled in four years of conflict that has taken a devastating toll on the people, creating one of the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 between the rival leaders under UN pressure led to the establishment of a transitional unity government in April, but was shattered by renewed fighting in July 2016.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

South Sudan cease-fire begins amid calls for compliance

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- A cease-fire between government and several rebel groups in war-torn South Sudan went into effect on Sunday, aiming to revive a stalled 2015 peace deal and end four years of civil war.

The South Sudanese government and numerous opposition factions on Thursday signed a cessation of hostilities agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and it begun on Dec. 24.

The cease-fire agreement brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an east Africa regional bloc, asked the warring parties to stop military operations, demands that forces remain in their bases and further called for release of political detainees.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Saturday directed the leadership of the army to comply with the agreement.

Riek Machar, leader of the main rebel group, Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in Opposition (SPLA-IO) on Friday ordered his forces to remain in their bases and cease confrontations.

It remains unclear whether the rival factions would this time respect the latest cessation of hostilities agreement as they previously violated several others.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Friday called on all parties to respect the pact and work collectively to ensure durable peace in the east African nation.

"The Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access is an important first step in the revitalization of the peace process," UNMISS said in a statement.

"UNMISS is committed to supporting the peace process in line with its mandate through advancing reconciliation efforts, strengthening conflict resolution mechanisms, building national cohesion and engaging in regional and international peace initiatives," it added.

IGAD and the international community are betting on the High-Level Revitalization Forum convened in Addis Ababa as the last push to end the devastating conflict in the world’s youngest nation.

South Sudan has been embroiled in four years of conflict that has taken a devastating toll on the people, and creating one of the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 between the rival leaders under UN pressure led to the establishment of a transitional unity government in April, but was shattered by renewed fighting in July 2016.

The UN estimates that about 4 million people have been displaced internally and externally.
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At least 20 killed in communal clashes in South Sudan’s Jonglei state

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) --  At least 20 people have been killed and 18 others injured in South Sudan’s Jonglei State after two rival communities clashed over renaming of a contested village, a local government official said Wednesday.

Jacob Akech Deng, Jonglei State Information Minister, told Xinhua by phone that clashes erupted in Bor South County over the weekend after rival groups disagreed on changing the name of their village.

He said one faction demanded their village’s name to be changed to Anuet instead of Panweel, a move that divided the community and resulted into the deadly clashes.

He said calm has returned to the area after the army and police created a buffer zone between the rival factions.

Akech added that seven people suspected of being ringleaders of the violence have been arrested and they would soon be arraigned in court.

"It was unfortunate that a dispute over naming of a village reached to level of confrontations which killed 20 people and 18 injured others in Bor South County," Akech said.

"We have issued warrant of arrest for the ringleaders of the violence.

Seven people have been locked up and the police are still doing its work. We are going to implement the law with full gear because we cannot entertain violence in our communities," he added.

The Jonglei region has suffered decades of communal and tribal violence, mainly caused by rivalry over livestock and grazing land. Last month, ethnic violence in the same region killed over 50 people.

           

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