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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs