South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir told the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry that “spoilers” could take advantage of the absence of a joint command council of senior military officers of the rival forces and derail the swift implementation of the peace agreement brokered by regional and international players.
” John Kerry called me and said they are very concerns that our forces are not respecting the ceasefire. I told him I have declared a permanent ceasefire and our forces have been given clear instructions to respect the ceasefire and they have complied. The reports of violations in the media are committed by the rebels,” an aide quoted the South Sudanese leader telling the country’s vice-president, James Wani Igga.
The rebels, Kiir claimed, attacked dispatched barges before the ceasefire was declared.
“They have been attacking these barges going to their initial destination. They were going to Malakal with normal supplies but the forces of Riek Machar attacked them and they only fought back in self-defense, but now these forces have been recalled”, he added.
President Kiir, his aide said, told Kerry he was committed to the full implementation of the deal, but reportedly feared such efforts could be derailed if a joint command was not immediately established to carry out monitoring and verification mechanisms on ground.
The official admitted Kiir was aware of the presence of some elements in his cabinet and in the army who are opposed to the deal, citing the army chief of staff, Paul Malong, who reportedly defiantly and disrespected the president at a consultative meeting held in Juba.
“Yes, it is true this incident occurred but it has been resolved. You know we are humans and there are times when it becomes difficult to control our emotions. This was what happened”, he said.
Another leading member of South Sudan’s ruling party loyal to president Kiir admitted there were different views about the peace deal, but that they were being persuaded to forego their views and support the decision of the president to implement the accord.
“It is evident that the peace process has divided our people and even the armed forces”, said the senior official, who declined to be named citing fear of reprisal from military and security agents whose heads remain opposed to key provisions of the agreement.
Most of the military officers, their generals and security officers have, from the very start of the peace process reportedly received every single step with suspicions and mistrust.
There is another group, probably a minority, of military personnel who, in fact, have openly declared them to be enemies of the peace process, he told Sudan Tribune.
But president Kiir, according to the information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, said his government was forced by overwhelming global pressure to sign the deal because there were no options left since his political and economic allies and friends in the region were also overwhelmed with the international pressure on them owing to the nation’s conflict.
Lueth told the state-owned SSTV Friday that the president made the remarks while addressing the council of ministers’ meeting he chaired after signing the deal on 26 August.