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South Sudan government Tuesday denied violating the cessation of hostilities brokered by the IGAD mediators, saying its cabinet had approved the agreement and directed the army to comply.
The Information minister and the government spokesman told the state-owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation that the practice of apportioning blames was encouraging violations.
“When two people go to court, one of them gets charged and the other gets the answer. Not all of them get punished. What those involved in monitoring the ceasefire do encourages the continuation of violations. You cannot punish all. The violator has to be identified and made to account. The council of ministers after the return of the delegation from Addis Ababa approved the cessation of hostilities agreement and the cabinet gave directive through the ministry of defence and other relevant institutions to comply with the directive,” explained Minister Michael Makuei Lueth.
The government spokesperson blamed the armed opposition forces for having been responsible for violations in a number of places in the country, pointing to recent developments in Equatoria region, Bahr el Ghazal region specifically the incident in which humanitarian workers were abducted and Southern Leer and Koch County in unity region as well as in areas of Akobo.
“The so called rebels of Riek Machar have never violated any ceasefire and instead of holding them to account for these clear violates, those who are charged with the monitoring and report these violations continue to make their reports calling on the parties to stop. This is not correct and this kind of reporting is the one that is encouraging continuous violation by the rebels,” said Lueth.
His comments follow a statement released by members of the Troika countries – Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States – condemning the violation of the ceasefire agreement.
The three countries condemned through a joint statement on Tuesday the violations of the agreement on the cessation of hostilities signed in Addis Ababa on 21 December by what they consider as the warring parties in South Sudan.
The statement called on all signatories of the cessation of hostilities agreement, and the field commanders to immediately end all military operations, urging the warring parties to put the South Sudanese people’s well-being ahead of their own narrow political interests.
“We also call on all CoH parties, and every level of government, to abide by the November 9 Presidential Order for unfettered humanitarian access. We further call for full cooperation with CTSAMM in meeting its CoH responsibilities, and with UNMISS in carrying out its UN Security Council mandate – as both are working for the South Sudanese people’s greater good,” the statement reads.
The troika countries, which are also the guarantors of the peace agreement, pointed out that the field commanders, and their political superiors, will be held accountable for violating the cessation of hostilities agreement, impeding humanitarian aid, and hindering CTSAMM and UNMISS operations.
The countries commended IGAD for its leadership of the High-Level Revitalization Forum, pointing out that: “We insist all participants engage in the Forum with seriousness of purpose and genuine commitment to bringing lasting peace to the South Sudanese people”.