South Sudan’s peace parties urge IGAD to save agreement

Ruot George

Parties to South Sudan’s 2018 peace deal are calling on the East African regional body, Intergovernmental Authority on Development or IGAD to urgently convene a meeting to try and save a deal that ended six years of violence in the East African country.

Fighting has erupted in the northern part of the country in the Upper Nile Region on Thursday.

The clashes are between forces under the control of president Salva Kiir and those of the opposition leader Riek Machar who is also the country’s first vice president.

“Our forces were attacked this morning and as I speak now we are yet to receive clear information on number of causalities and damage that might have occurred to our equipment.” Said Major General, Lul Ruai Koang, Spokesperson for the South Sudan People’s Defense Force

South Sudan’s People’s Defense Force which is under president Salva Kiir blames forces loyal to vice president Riek Machar for the fighting.

“We are under attack without any provocation, we did not get out of our defensive position to go and attack our peace partners, so I am alerting all the stakeholders that SPLA-IO is on offensive so if there is anything they can do, let them prevail over SPLA-IO so that they stop all forms of hostilities.” Added Major General Lul in an interview with Juba Echo on Thursday.

The opposition forces under vice president Riek Machar known as Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition or SPLA-IO denies attacking SSPDF

It says it’s only fighting now in self-defense adding that it pulled out from the various security mechanisms under the 2018 peace deal because of continuous attacks on its positions by president Kiir’s forces.
“We are calling on the peace guarantors, IGAD, those that are responsible for this peace to make sure they put these two parties down and find out the best possible solution to resolve this otherwise, what I am seeing is that SSPDF is taking us back to war.” Said
Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, Spokesperson, Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO)

Many in South Sudan are concerned about the clashes.

Edmund Yekani, Executive Director for Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, a Civil Society Organization says the only way out of the current crisis is for IGAD which mediated the peace deal to convene an urgent meeting to address the areas of disagreement among the parties that are leading to the clashes.
“I understand IGAD Special Envoy, Ismail Wais is in Khartoum, let Sudan and Uganda who are guarantors work out a way of having a meeting to resolve this problem.” Said Yekani.
The country has five vice presidents.
Three of whom, each has armed forces loyal to.

Many here say the biggest achievement of the 2018 peace agreement was the ceasefire holding for more than two years.

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