World Bulletin / News Desk
At least 15 people were killed – including women and children – and hundreds of heads of cattle stolen in militant attacks on two villages near Bor, capital of South Sudan's Jonglei State, which the government was quick to blame on rebels.
"The areas are very far and there are no access routes, so we couldn't readily verify the attacks,"Sudan People's Liberation Army spokesman Col. Philip Aguer told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
Militants attacked the villages of Jelle and Abuodit in the early hours of Wednesday. They reportedly killed 15 people and looted hundreds of heads of cattle.
"Most of those killed were women, elderly persons and children," Aguer asserted.
The army spokesman was quick to point the finger at rebels loyal to Riek Machar, President Salva Kiir's sacked vice president.
"These are typical acts by the rebels," he said. "They are continuing to carry out attacks despite the ceasefire agreement."
A spokesman for the rebel was not immediately available to comment on the accusation.
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since mid-December, when Kiir accused Machar of standing behind a failed coup attempt against his regime.
Following weeks of talks, the warring rivals signed an agreement last week calling for a cessation of hostilities.
According to the cessation of hostilities agreement, both parties "shall commit to immediately cease all military operations and freeze their forces at the places they are in and refrain from taking any actions that could lead to military confrontations, including all movement of forces, ammunition resupply, or any other action that could be viewed as confrontational."
On the security of civilians, the agreement calls on both parties to the conflict to "refrain from attacks on the civilian population and commit to the protection of human rights, life and property as provided by various national, continental and international instruments."
The violence, however, has already claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people.
Concluding a three-day visit to the country, Amos Valerie, UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said Wednesday that some 3.7 million people in SouthSudan were now severely food insecure, while more than 820,000 had been displaced.
African Union pushes for peace in South Sudan, CAR
The leaders of two East African nations have used this year’s African Union summit in Addis Ababa highlight the deteriorating security situation in South Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR).
In his opening remarks at the summit, attended by 34 African leaders, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn reflected on the situation that has unfolded in Africa over the past year.
"Peace and security has been a major preoccupation over the past year. I am deeply concerned by the emergence of new conflicts which, if not addressed urgently, have the potential to be a serious threat to our collective peace and security. This undermines the gains that we have made in recent years."
Hailemariam was referring to the ongoing situation in South Sudan and the problems that have been brewing in the CAR.
"We need to find immediate solutions to rescue these two countries from falling into the abyss. A failure to do so, will have serious implications for peace and security in the region and indeed the whole continent," Hailemariam said.
Adding to Hailemariam’s remarks, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta pointed out that the conflicts have reminded the continent of the need to galvanize support to preempt political differences before they descend into armed conflict.
"These conflicts are so near to us, and remind us that we must join hands with our neighbours to prevent. We must respond to them when they do break out."
'Treason charges won't affect S. Sudan talks'
South Sudan's Information Minister Michael Makuei does not expect the treason charges his government is slapping against senior former officials, including sacked vice president Riek Machar, to affect negotiations with the rebels.
"The peace talks will continue as scheduled," Makuei said in an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
"How far we reach will have an impact on the trial, but the trials and the negotiations will all go on as scheduled," he asserted.
Makuei said Machar, former governor of Unity State Taban Deng Gai and former environment minister Alfred Lado Gore will be tried in absentia since they are at large.
Those still in detention and face the same treason charges are Pagan Amum, former secretary-general of the ruling party; Oyai Deng Ajak, a former national security minister; former defense minister Majak D'Agoot and former ambassador to the US Ezikiel Lol Gatkouth.
"Under the law, this is not an offence were a person is released on bail," explained Minister Makuei.
"They will continue to remain in custody until their trial," he added.
"Whether they will be taken to a court martial or a special tribunal set up by the ministry of justice will be decided with the directives of the president."
The information minister confirmed that former cabinet affairs minister Deng Alor Kuol and six others have been released and flown to Kenya.
"This is the group that feared for their lives and the president of Kenya requested our president to have them taken out so that elements of threats are addressed," he said.
"Our president agreed since there is no evidence against them," he added.Last Mod: 31 Ocak 2014, 11:33