South Sudan

South Sudan rebels boycott peace talks over government attacks

February 12, 2018 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s armed opposition faction allied to the country’s former first vice president Riek Machar opted out of the ongoing peace talks on Monday in protest against what it described as continued attacks on the positions by the government.

“We the opposition group and participants of the IGAD [Inter-governmental Authority for Development]-led High-Level Forum on the Revitalization of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan strongly condemn the continuous violations of the Cession of Hostility Agreement (CoHA) by the government,” the armed opposition said in a statement issued after the boycott.

The opposition accused the government, a partner in the peace process of demonstrating “lack of seriousness and political will to negotiate in good faith”.

“This is demonstrated by its refusal to sign the Declaration of Principles that was jointly discussed and signed by all other parties to the revitalization process,” the statement reads.

Blaming government forces continuously attacking the armed opposition positions throughout the country, they group demanded that South Sudan from being an IGAD member state.

“In light of CoHA violations. We demand an urgent and immediate investigation of all current violations and a review of the status of implementation of Cessation of Hostilities Agreement,” the armed opposition further stated.

The rebels also demanded that the government of South Sudan signs the Declaration of Principles as it is the basis for negotiations.

“The government forces must immediately withdraw from all posi1ions they captured in viola1inoof the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, Article 3(2),” it added in its statement.

The fresh accusation now questions the sincerity and commitment of the government towards ending war through peaceful dialogue.

The deputy military spokesman of the armed opposition movement confirmed that his delegation stayed out of the talks on Monday, but vowed they would return, despite the aggressions from government.

Similarly, the armed opposition’s deputy spokesperson, Lam Paul Gabriel said their delegation boycotted the talks mediated by mediators in protest over government offensive against their forces around Nasir town in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state region.

“The regime forces this morning [Monday] attacked our forces in Nyatot with the aim of capturing it. They are also preparing to attack us in Nasir,” Lam told Sudan Tribune over phone on Monday.

The latest attack, he said, was the fifth since the second phase of High-Level Revitalization Forum kicked off in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“The regime [in Juba] does not want to negotiate in good faith that’s why our delegates got out of talks,” he further observed.

A high profile official, who is part of the government delegation at the talks, equally confirmed the opposition walk-out, saying the group of the faction of armed opposition allied to the former vice president failed to show up at the mediation hall in the morning.

“IO [armed opposition] of Riek withdrew from the peace talks claiming that their forces at Nasir were attacked by the government”, the official told Sudan Tribune, without elaborating.

The spokesman of the government Lul Ruai Kong blamed opposition forces for provoking the clash in town, resulting in a serious exchange of gunfire on Monday. State officials claimed the fighting was sparked by attempt by the government forces to rescue soldiers kidnapped by armed opposition forces

The second phase of the South Sudan peace revitalization forum started on 5 February, after the failure of the parties to implement a cessation of hostilities. It is also convened under regional and international threats to impose sanctions on the parties if they fail to honour the peace deal.