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November 19, 2011

South Sudan Rebel Says Peace Talks Failed, Violence Likely

South Sudanese rebel leader George Athor Deng says peace talks with the country's ruling party have broken down and that his forces are prepared to continue fighting.  

Athor told reporters in Nairobi Sunday that the key demands of his South Sudanese Democratic Movement have not been met.

He spoke after talks the past week with the party of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir - the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

"Unfortunately the other side was not cooperative.  They were adamant," he said. "We tabled very simple demands and in my view, and the view of Southern Sudanese, that one should not be difficult."

Athor said the demands include new elections, the release of political detainees, and the selection of a third party to enforce any future peace agreement with the government.

Athor was previously a general in what is now South Sudan's army, the SPLA.  But he rebelled against the South Sudanese government last year after losing the election for governor in Jonglei state, in a vote he claims was rigged in favor of his rival.

In the past year, his forces have carried out deadly attacks in Jonglei and Upper Nile states against the South Sudanese army.

He says his forces will continue fighting if the government does not meet their demands.

"And I believe you cannot make an omelette without breaking an egg, or eggs, so people must die so we have peace, we have democracy and sacrifices have to be made," he said.

South Sudan has accused Athor of receiving support from Khartoum, but the rebel leader denies the allegation.

He says he receives support for his cause from “friends” in the South Sudanese diaspora, and that he gets most of his military supplies through SPLA deserters.

When South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in July, President Kiir offered amnesty to rebel groups including the SSDM if they laid down their arms.  Athor has not accepted the offer.