South Sudan’s ceasefire is increasingly under pressure of unraveling due to ongoing hostilities in the oil-rich regions of Unity and Upper Nile, said ceasefire monitors on Thursday.
Asrat Denero Amad, the Chairperson for Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) warned that the ceasefire is now under threat due to clashes between the splinter factions of the main opposition party Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-in opposition.
“Pertaining to the very critical issues of permanent ceasefire, there is concern that the ceasefire is under pressure and could be fracturing. There is tension in Unity state since the Mirmir cantonment site was overrun on February 11, 2022, by Kitgwang elements and armed youth,” said Amad during the meeting of the Revitalized Joint Monitoring Evaluation Commission in Juba, capital of South Sudan.
The ceasefire signed in December 2017 between the SPLM/A-IO led by now First Vice President Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir has been largely holding despite isolated clashes in some remote areas.
The Kitgwang faction is a splinter group of SPLM/A-IO led by Machar’s former chief of general staff Simon Gatwech Dual.
It split from the main opposition in August 2021, while accusing Machar of nepotism and weakening its hand in the transitional unity government formed in February 2020.
The parties despite recently forming the unified command structure are still yet to graduate the 83,000 unified forces to take charge of the transitional period that ends by April 2023.
“Regarding the implementation of the pre-transitional tasks, the agreement on the unification of forces’ high command calls for the Joint Defense Board (JDB) to complete the arrangements for graduation and deployment of forces within two months of the agreement,” said Amad.
The unified forces are supposed to be made up of the national army (SSPDF), intelligence service, police, prisons and wildlife forces.