S. Sudanese president blames rebels on ceasefire violation
South Sudanese president Salva Kiir said Thursday that ceasefire remains difficult to enforce due to constant violations by rebels following renewed clashes on Tuesday in the border town of Yei that left four soldiers dead.
"Even if we were to declare a unilateral ceasefire which people are talking about that you declare ceasefire. You cannot declare a ceasefire for yourself. You declare ceasefire, so that two sides respect it all, and that the unilateral cease fire is not binding on the other side people must understand this," he said Juba.
President Kiir directed the South Sudan army (SPLA) to be ready to defend their positions when faced with aggression from the rebels.
"I make sure that I don't violate my ceasefire but I have the right to defend myself if I am attacked by anybody. You cannot raise up your hands and say we have ceasefire so please don't (rebels) attack us," he said.
The president also defended the SPLA's track record in the face of mounting criticism of it's handling of the more than three year's counter-insurgency operations against rebels that have seen it being accused by international NGOs of mass civilian killings, rape, theft and plunder of public resources besides lacking national character.
"In the last three years, we have seen how the forces of evil have tried to bring down our country. They are bent on trying to rewrite the history and drive the wedge among our people. They have even gone as far as portraying our SPLA as an ethnic army," he disclosed.
The military is comprised of all South Sudanese from every ethnic group in the country, he observed.
The South Sudanese leader urged citizens including the armed opposition to embrace nationalism and patriotism to preserve the gains of the more than two decades of war that won independence from northern neighbor Sudan in 2011.
President Kiir also scoffed at critics that have dismissed the upcoming national dialogue as lacking inclusivity and credibility and vowed that on May 22, the general secretariat of the national dialogue will be sworn in to start off the process geared at unifying and pacifying the war-torn country.
"We have been talking of national dialogue and this has been raising so many questions especially among those who pretend to be friends of South Sudan, when they are the enemies in disguise that want to destroy South Sudan," Kiir said.
South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to fighting that pitted mostly Dinka ethnic soldiers loyal to Kiir against Machar's Nuer ethnic group.
The 2015 peace agreement to end the violence was again violated in July 2016 when the rival factions resumed fighting in the capital forcing the rebel leader Machar to flee into exile.
The conflict has killed tens of thousands and displaced over 2 million from their homes, and forced more than 1.5 million to flee into neighbouring countries.