South Sudanese government reinforcements have mobilized this week into Jonglei state in violation of ceasefire accords, according to a statement published Friday by the Troika group of nations, whose representatives serve on ceasefire monitoring teams in South Sudan.
Foreign ministries of the ‘Troika’ — the United Kingdom, United States, and Norway — claimed “strong evidence of violations of the Cessation of Hostilities” in recent weeks perpetrated by both government and opposition forces.
Citing witness accounts by ceasefire monitors, the three Western governments, which serve as guarantors of a collapsed 2015 peace accord, describe “the movement this week of hundreds of Government troops into Jonglei state.”
Throughout the civil war Jonglei has been divided, with the western half controlled by President Salva Kiir’s SPLA and much of the eastern half controlled by the rebel SPLA-IO. After more than two years of general stability along the Jonglei front, President Salva Kiir in January last year publicly ordered a military offensive.
Since then the government has gained ground in central parts of the state while tens of thousands of refugees have fled eastward toward Ethiopia.
Elsewhere in South Sudan, the Troika says there have been violations of the cessation of hostilities also in Unity State, perpetrated by both government and opposition forces, though the Troika did not elaborate on what these violations were.
Regarding the recent attacks on the western outskirts of the capital Juba, the Troika says there is “strong evidence” linking recently defected government troops loyal to former Chief of Staff Gen. Paul Malong to the violence.
Malong’s loyalist and field commander Chan Garang has claimed responsibility for the attack in a recent media interview. His forces have not committed to any cessation of hostilities agreement with the government.
Neither Chan nor Malong are involved in the ongoing South Sudan High Level Revitalisation Forum, a Troika-backed effort to resuscitate the 2015 deal.
Nonetheless, the Troika in its statement warns of possible consequences for Chan and other commanders who may engage in violence, saying, “We remain committed to holding to account all those who obstruct the realisation of lasting peace for the people of South Sudan, whether or not they are participating directly in the Forum.”
Troika diplomats are calling for South Sudanese leaders to participate at the Forum “in the spirit of compromise,” adding, “Parties must not be able to increase their influence through force of arms in advance of the second round of talks.”