South Sudan Says It’s Ready to Resume Peace Talks With Rebels
South Sudan on Monday expressed readiness to resume peace negotiations with the rebel faction of the SPLM under the leadership of the former vice-president, Riek Machar, downplaying the likely implications of recent military engagement in Upper Nile and Jonglei states. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) announced last week the resumption of peace talks on 30 July, one month after a sudden decision by the mediators to suspend the talks as the rebels protested the “unfair” selection of civil society representatives.
“The government has never left the venue of negotiations. It is the rebels that raised the demands which led the mediation team to go for consultations,” South Sudan’s foreign affairs minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, told Sudan Tribune on Monday.
S Sudan rebels launch attack despite truce
South Sudanese rebels have launched an offensive to retake a key town near the border with Ethiopia in what the United Nations said was a clear violation of a truce agreement. “This attack represents the most serious resumption of hostilities,” since President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, rebel leader Riek Machar, met in May and recommitted to a January ceasefire, the UN mission said in a statement on Sunday.
The fighters loyal to Machar on Sunday struck Nasir, their former headquarters located 500km north of Juba and close to the border with Ethiopia. The headquarters was retaken by government forces in May. UNMISS, the UN mission, laid the blame for the truce violation squarely with Machar’s forces. “The attack is a clear violation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement,” it said.
S Sudan truce crumbles amid renewed clashes
South Sudan rebels and government troops battled over the strategic town of Nasir, the United Nations has said, with rebels launching their largest offensive since an oft-broken May truce. Heavy shooting continued for a second day with fighting continuing in the northern town and rebel forces apparently in “firm control” of the centre, UN spokesman Joe Contreras said on Monday. The UN said on Sunday that the fresh rebel offensive “represents the most serious resumption of hostilities” since President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, rebel leader Riek Machar, met in May promising again to stick to a January ceasefire. We call on both parties to immediately end all such attacks and fully adhere to their … commitments to cease hostilities. – Marie Harf, US State Department spokeswoman.