JUBA – South Sudan rebels of the National Salvation Front (NAS) led by General Thomas Cirilo Swaka have said that they are shocked by a statement by the British Ambassador to South Sudan Christ Trott who last week condemned last month’s NAS attack on vice-president James Wani Igga’s convoy near Lobonok.
Last month, a convoy of South Sudan vice-president for economic cluster James Wani Igga came under ambush from heavily armed men killing six of Igga’s bodyguards. Others were wounded and two were kidnapped.
In an interview with Eye Radio last week, British Ambassador to South Sudan Christ Trott condemned the attack saying the holdout opposition group should abide by the Rome declaration which led the parties recommit to a 2017 ceasefire agreement.
“All signatories although they signed the Rome Declaration and they signed the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, they are not fully part of the CTSAMVM and so CTSAMVM is not able to look into incidents like what happened this week, which we condemned,” Trott said on Wednesday last week.
However, in a statement this afternoon, the National Salvation Front (NAS) said it was shocked with the British envoy’s statement saying he should instead condemn the government for constantly violation the ceasefire agreement and the Rome declaration.
“The statement condemning NAS is unfortunate. While Ambassador Chris Trott is entitled to express his opinion, NAS and the people of South Sudan expect the Ambassador to verify all violations in a credible manner before making public statements that speaks to the contrary and hurt the suffering people of South Sudan,” the statement extended to Sudans Post partly reads.
The strong-worded statement accused South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF) and the SPLA-IO for having been violating the ceasefire by attacked NAS and civilians which it said has led to the displacement of thousands of civilians in Central Equatoria state.
“The regime of Salva Kiir has been flagrantly violating the CoHA in broad daylight with South Sudan Defense Force (SSPDF) and Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) attacking the civil population and NAS bases in several locations in Equatoria starting from the 5th April 2020,” the statement said.
“This has been a deliberate military offensive strategy targeting NAS defensive positions and the civil population with looting, killing, rape and burning of houses which consequently displaced thousands of civilians while others were uprooted from their villages and brought to areas under control of SSPDF,” it asserted.
The statement said as result of the continued government attack, many civilians have been “forced to flee to the neighboring countries of Uganda and Congo (DRC) for their safety” adding that those government actions have been “clearly documented by UN human rights and other local and international organizations.”
“The suffering people of South Sudan expected at least a condemnation of the regimes actions against civil populations and NAS position from H.E. Ambassador Chris Trott but all they got was a loud silence.
“The bodyguards of Vice President James Wani Igga involved in the recent incident were on military mission against NAS positions and are part of the notorious Tiger Division which was responsible for all kinds of human rights violations and war crimes.
“The forces of NAS engaged this enemy force in self-defense resulting in the loss of lives. The condemnation of the self-defense action of NAS against the brutality and crimes committed by this Division specially the killing and rape cases of women and young girls is shocking.
“NAS reiterates its commitment to the Cessions of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) signed on 21st December 2017 in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, and to the Rome Declaration signed on 12th January 2020 in Rome, Italy. NAS however, reserves the right to self-defense.”
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