“We call upon the Ethiopian government to stop illegal movements of rebels inside its territory and interference in the internal affairs of South Sudan”
South Sudan’s government on Monday accused the government of the neighboring Ethiopia of allowing the rebels to use its territory as a launching pad for offensives against the South Sudanese government.
The accusation came hours after the rebels say they were fighting government troops inside the border town of Pagak.
In an exclusive interview with the Nyamilepedia this afternoon, Col. Dickson Gatluak Joak, the military spokesman of the forces loyal to the country’s first vice president Taban Deng Gai, said the rebels are using Ethiopian territory as a launching pad.
“Their land [Ethiopian] Pilual area is being used as a launching pad [by the rebels],” Gatluak said pointing out that the army has all the information about the rebel presence in the Ethiopian territory.
He said the presence of the South Sudanese rebels in the Ethiopian territory represents a violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement signed in December 2017 calling on the Ethiopian government to stop the cross-border movement of the rebel group fighting the South Sudanese government and to cease interference in the internal affairs of the country.
“This is a violation of the COHA and we call upon the Ethiopia government to stop illegal movements of rebels inside its territory or interference to the affairs of South Sudan,” Gatluak said.
Pagak, has been a military stronghold of the armed opposition group, SPLM-IO before its capture by government troops and their allies in August 2017 after some local youth and SPLA-IO defectors help government operation in capturing the area.
Previous attempts by the rebel group to regain control failed owing to lack of military logistics as well as internal divisions engulfed the movement as FVP Taban Deng Gai lure some to leave Machar’s camp.
South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 after forces loyal to the country’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardiit and his then Governor of Northern Bahr Al-Ghazal State Gen. Paul Malong Awan went door-to-door in the capital Juba killing civilians belonging to the Nuer ethnic group sparking a nation-wide protests from top army generals from the Nuer leading to a civil war.
A peace agreement signed in August 2015 by President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar and negotiated under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) in presence of Troika and other international observers collapsed in July 2016 following fighting at the presidential palace in Juba “J1” reportedly after President Kiir ordered a failed attempt to arrest the SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar.
Late last year, the IGAD decided to revive the peace agreement and had initiated a peace revival mechanism known as the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) to bring back to life the 2015 peace agreement.
Previous rounds of the HLRF has been unsuccessful and the IGAD said it expects the warring parties to negotiate on the last round of talks on 17th of May.
Representatives of the negotiating parties are currently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia after the mediation invited them for consultations.