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South Sudan army chief of staff vows commitment to ceasefire

The rank of Lt general is pinned on Lt Gen. James Ajong by President Salva Kir, and Vice President James Wani, during the swearing-in ceremony as SPLA general chief of staff on Wednesday 10 May 2017 (ST)

December 27, 2017 (AWEIL) – Chief of defence of forces of South Sudanese army Wednesday has pledged to implement the ceasefire agreement, urging the international community to restrain rebel forces.

Gen James Ajonga Mawut, currently in Aweil for Christmas break, told officers and soldiers that President Kiir had given instructions and orders for a ceasefire to be implemented immediately.

“As you may have heard the cessation of hostilities agreement which the government and the opposition have signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the president responding to development gave out the orders and instructions to me to start implementation of the ceasefire. Came into effect on Sunday and it will remain effective until other development comes,” said Gen Mawut.

“But we will also have the right to fight in self-defence should we come under attack,” he adds.

The truce is a confidence-building measure in a political process to ensure the effective implementation of the peace agreement of 2015. However, the warring parties continue to show mistrust towards each other despite the efforts exerted by the regional mediators and international facilitators.

The chief of army staff commended the government representatives who attended revitalization forum for blocking attempts to introduce a text under the agreement prohibiting the government to acquire arms.

He denied claims that the army has violated the ceasefire, saying it was the other side (rebels) which is continuing to attack their positions with the intention to get where they could establish headquarters.

“Actually there is no rebellion. Whether in Equatoria, in Upper Nile and here in Bahr el Ghazal, there are no rebels and you know. You have done your work, congratulations. The ones you see reported in the media come from outside country. In Equatoria, for example, they operate along the border with Uganda, the same thing in Upper Nile, especially in Shilluk area, they operate in the bush along the border with Sudan, and it is the same thing in areas close with Ethiopia. They have no headquarters completely,” he said.

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“So all that you hear about ceasefire violations are attempts to attack areas they think they will gain a foothold and to control it. This will not happen and the international community to monitor their activities and restrain them,” he added

The top military officer said they will not accept apportioning blames for ceasefire violation.

“We will not accept this idea of having to blame everybody even when the aggressor is known”.

His comments follow remarks of President Salva Kiir in which he also denied accusations of violating the ceasefire, pushing blames to the rebels.

The cessation of hostilities agreement was violated yesterday morning “Sunday” in Bentiu area, in an area called Koch. It was violated by the so-called armed groups,” said Kiir.

“I know the international community will say that all sides are guilty of a violation of the ceasefire. No, we keep our words. It is they (rebels), who attacked us,” he reiterated the president made his remarks at St. Theresa Cathedral in Juba on Monday.



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