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South Sudan Commission Demands Parties Comply With Cease-Fire

FILE - African Union chairman Moussa Faki (2nd L-top) sitting with members of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) as they attend a signing ceremony for the ceasefire agreement among South Sudanese parties to end the four-year war in the country, at the headquarters of African Union in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Dec. 21, 2017.

The body that oversees South Sudan's 2015 peace agreement is demanding all parties in the country's conflict comply with a cease-fire deal signed a month ago.

The statement Monday from JMEC (Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission) chair Festus Mogae signaled the shakiness of the cease-fire between the government and rebel groups. The truce was meant to bring calm to a country where political and ethnic conflict has displaced some four million people since December 2013.

Mogae is calling on all sides to fulfill their obligations to the international cease-fire monitoring body, CTSAMM.

"CTSAMM teams are the direct representatives of [regional bloc] IGAD and the wider international community on the ground in South Sudan," he said, adding that parties to the conflict must cooperate with the cease-fire monitor.

The government and its opponents have accused each other of violating the cessation-of-hostilities agreement signed in Addis Ababa on December 21.

On Friday, South Sudan Cabinet Affairs Minister Martin Elia Lomuro threatened to kick CTSAMM out of the country and suggested the United Nations' regional protection force in South Sudan take over CTSAMM's work.

The cease-fire monitoring body released a report earlier in the week that described accounts of soldiers raping girls and women and accused the government of continuing to recruit child soldiers.

Lomuro told VOA's South Sudan in Focus that CTSAMM'S report on the cease-fire violations is "fake and biased."

He also warned media outlets against reporting IGAD's findings.

"Nobody should listen to propaganda," he told a news conference. "We are here to protect our country's interest and our people. So if you are a media outlet or a journalist, we will take action against you if you contradict what is happening and mislead the people of South Sudan."

The cease-fire deal prohibits the warring parties from threatening the media and its personnel in South Sudan.

But CTSAMM also said the rebel faction loyal to former vice president Riek Machar spearheaded an attack on the town of Koch, just hours after the cease-fire was implemented in December.

The Machar faction accused CTSAMM of turning a blind eye to the violation committed by South Sudan's current first vice president, Taban Deng Gaum, who allegedly visited several areas in South Sudan in the past two weeks with a large number of troops.

Mogae said CTSAMM "has and will continue to monitor the permanent cease-fire and the most recent cessation of hostilities agreement to the best of its ability and with total impartiality."