News / Africa

South Sudan Rebels Explain Refusal to Sign Cease-fire Agreement

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar addresses news conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 12, 2014.
South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar addresses news conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 12, 2014.
James Butty

A South Sudanese rebel official said there can be no lasting peace in the country as long as President Salva Kiir is at the helm of government. 

Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, former South Sudanese ambassador to the United States, said Kiir is a symbol of disunity that does not enjoy the support of majority of South Sudanese.  

There were reports Monday that the warring parties had signed a cessation of hostilities agreement, but in a statement issued Thursday the rebels said they were not part of the negotiations and that their leader, former Vice President Riek Machar, did not sign the agreement. 

Gatkuoth said mediators of the regional group Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) presented a blank document to Machar to sign, but he refused to do so without the text.

“Our position is clear that, first, we must negotiate [between the] two warring parties so that we can reach an agreement and then sign it, and then the IGAD leaders should be the ones to witness and not the other way around. So, that agreement, which was signed in Addis Ababa, the two parties did not negotiate this agreement.  And, basically, Dr. Riek Machar was not given the text together with Salva Kiir.  They just told to sign here, as if they were being given a blank check,” he said.

Kiir’s government has blamed the rebels for consistently violating previous agreements, but Gatkuoth said the government has been the aggressor from the start of the conflict.

“When the crisis started, we were in Juba. But, they have pushed us all the way to Nasir. We were in Bor, they took Bor; we were in Bentiu, they took Bentiu; we were in Malakal, they took Malakal. So, who’s actually aggressing? It is the government under Salva,” he said.

IGAD, which has been mediating the talks, has called on Kiir and Machar to form a unity government within 45 days.

Gatkuoth said a unity government is possible because both leaders know there’s no military solution to the conflict.

“A unity government can be formed because we believe that this war cannot be won militarily by Salva. So, for us, I think there’s a possibility of having an agreement because the voices of the majority in South Sudan [say] they want peace, and 80 percent of the people of South Sudan [say] they are not happy with what is happening in their country under Salva Kiir. So, Salva is not a uniting factor; he is a dividing factor,” Gatkuoth said.

Gatkuoth said a majority of South Sudan’s internally displaced people are afraid to return home with Kiir in power.

He said that although the rebels are not satisfied with the IGAD mediation process, they are committed to it because they believe Africa’s problems must be solved by Africans. 

Gatkuoth also said IGAD mediators should stop legitimizing Kiir.  He said peace can only come to South Sudan when there is a total transformation of the country. He went on to say IGAD-mediated negotiations should deal with “substantive” issues, including security sector reform, governance and federalism.

The South Sudanese army Wednesday accused rebels of shooting down a U.N. helicopter Tuesday in Bentiu.  Gatkuoth said the rebels are not operating in the region where the helicopter went down.

“The U.N. said it is a crash.  We are not there in the place where it crashed. It is controlled by the government.  So, how come the government just jumped up and said that it was us who did something to that aircraft?” Gatkuoth said.

He called for a “thorough” investigation to determine the truth.  The U.N. said Wednesday the helicopter was brought down by an “attack,” but did not issue blame for the crash that killed three Russian crewmembers and injured a fourth.

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid