JUBA. — South Sudan’s main rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in Opposition (SPLA-IO) said Monday that they have no intention to return to war amid fears that a fragile 2018 peace deal could unravel.
Lam Paul Gabriel, SPLA-IO deputy military spokesman, said the group is committed to the peace agreement and is open for talks with the government to address issues of security arrangements before formation of a unity government next month.
“We are continuing with implementation process peacefully. So, we are calling for calm from everyone. The SPLA-IO has got no intention of fighting with anybody,” Gabriel told reporters in Juba. South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world. The UN estimates that about 4 million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.
A peace deal signed in August 2015 collapsed following renewed violence in the capital, Juba in July 2016.Under the 2018 peace deal, opposition leader Riek Machar, will once again be reinstated as President Salva Kiir’s deputy.
But there are concerns that the shaky peace deal may fail again over delays in implementing key provisions of the accord that includes integration of fighters, determination of the number of states, adoption of new constitution.
Machar’s group have demanded six months extension of the pre-transition period, but president Kiir’s administration have so far refused to grant the request, instead calling on Machar to come to Juba to form the unity government by May 12.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development, an east African regional bloc, last week invited Kiir and Machar to Ethiopia in an effort to address the stalemate. Gabirel said regardless of the outcome of the Ethiopian talks scheduled for May 2 and 3, the SPLA-IO would seek peaceful means to resolve the pending dispute. “For us it is very clear, we are not going back to fight because this country need peace,” Gabriel said. – Xinhua