World Bulletin / News Desk
Sacked South Sudanese vice-president Riek Machar has slammed a decision by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East Africa trading bloc, to send military forces to South Sudan, warning the deployment could worsen the nascent country's already-tense situation.
"The Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the people of South Sudan strongly oppose the resolution, as it does not bring about peace but worsens the suffering of the people of South Sudan," Machar told Anadolu Agency.
The SPLM/A had fought government forces in a bitter civil war that ended with a 2005 peace treaty that opened the door to South Sudan's independence in 2011.
As differences between Machar and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir culminated in all-out conflict last December, both of the two former allies claimed to represent the SPLM, which fought for the country's independence.
In March, Kiir's government agreed on the deployment of military forces from IGAD member states to replace withdrawing Ugandan troops, which were sent to South Sudan last December with the stated aim of evacuating Ugandan nationals from the war-ravaged country.
Ugandan troops were later asked to secure the Juba airport and other vital strategic facilities.
Machar's camp has accused Ugandan forces of fighting alongside South Sudanese government troops and intervening in the conflict in Kiir's favor.
"IGAD's decisions are influenced by the Ugandan president [Yoweri Museveni]. Uganda's army and government are complicating the situation in South Sudan," Machar said.
"The participation of Museveni and Kiir in IGAD's meetings seriously affected its decisions," he said. "We're concerned about the IGAD decision because we aren't part of it."
The conflict has already claimed more than 10,000 lives, with the U.N. estimating that some 3.7 million people in South Sudan are now "severely food insecure" while around one million have been displaced by the violence.
Machar believes the deployment of IGAD-affiliated forces will not help end the conflict.
"First of all, this force is a duplication of efforts, as the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is already deployed in South Sudan," he said.
"Secondly, the sole purpose [of the IGAD force] is to prolong Kiir's government, which is already on its deathbed," he added.
Machar went on to say that his army was getting stronger in terms of supply and logistics.
"The Ugandan army and Kiir's army provide us with ammunition. We collect what they leave behind while retreating," he said.
The nascent country remains in the grip of on-again, off-again violence despite an IGAD-brokered cessation of hostilities agreement signed in January following weeks of talks in Addis Ababa.
A second round of talks resumed last week in the Ethiopian capital.
Asked if his forces continued to observe the cessation of hostilities agreement, Machar said: "We observe what they violate and we defend ourselves."
"In our view," the rebel leader added, "the only way for President Kiir to get out of this crisis is negotiation."Last Mod: 02 Nisan 2014, 10:00