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Rebel Group Claims South Sudan Ceasefire Has Been Violated

FILE - Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA-IO) rebels walk during an assault on government Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers in the town of Kaya, South Sudan, Aug. 26, 2017.
FILE - Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA-IO) rebels walk during an assault on government Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers in the town of Kaya, South Sudan, Aug. 26, 2017.

Rebels of the Federal Democratic Party (FDP) are accusing forces loyal to Riek Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM IO) of attacking FDP forces in Kotkea near Nasir town in Upper Nile State.

Spokesman Changkouth Bichiock Reth for the umbrella group of opposition parties known as South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), said FDP commanders Major General Riek Gach Gatluak and Brigadier Ochan Nyuot were captured by opposition forces during the fight over the control of Kotkea.

SPLM IO reaction

SPLM IO Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee Stephen Par told VOA’s South Sudan In Focus that rebels of the FDP have no military posts in Upper Nile.

‘’What is happening in Upper Nile, I don’t think the party [FDP] of Gabriel Changson has forces in Nasir. We are not aware of this,’’ Par said.

However, he admitted his group arrested one person in Nasir for what he called "suspicious activities.”

Reth says the attack by SPLM IO and the arrest of FDP senior military officer Major General Jany Kaway Yoakhor a few weeks is ‘’a flagrant breach of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed in December 2017 and a violation of the permanent ceasefire agreed to in Khartoum in June 2018.’’

Looming attacks

Suba Samuel Manase, the spokesman of the rebel National Salvation (NAS), released a statement Saturday accusing the SPLM IO of mobilizing its forces to attack NAS forces in Yei River state.

Manase alleges that NAS intelligence confirmed reports of two groups of SPLM/A –IO forces moving from the village of Panyume in Morobo County to Kajo-Keji, Lanya, and Loka to attack NAS forces stationed in this area.

‘’This information is credible because we have forces on the ground and we monitor the movement of the SPLM IO, and for that matter the information is, indeed, credible.’’ Manase told VOA.

Reth said urged the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the U.S, Norway and the United Kingdom to put pressure on SPLM/A-IO to respect the September 12 peace agreement, release the captured FDP officers, and withdraw from Kotkea.

VOA could not independently verify the accusations by the three rebel groups.

Cease-Fire Monitors

The Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM), a body formed by IGAD to monitoring cease-fire violations, has not issued any statement on the latest reports.

Chris Trott, Britain's special representative for Sudan and South Sudan told VOA last month that the parties involved in the conflict in South Sudan have a chance to show their commitment to peace by implementing the revitalized agreement.

Just days after the signing of the agreement, reports of fighting had surfaced in several parts of South Sudan, according to Jean-Pierre Lacroix, U.N. undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations.

In an interview with VOA in September, Angelina Teny, a senior member of the rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO), blamed government forces for allegedly attacking rebel strongholds in Central Equatoria and the former Unity state.

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    John Tanza

    John Tanza works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is the managing editor and host of the South Sudan In Focus radio program.