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Machar says withdrawal from joint security mechanisms ‘not a declaration of war’

South Sudan’s then rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar talks to his men in a rebel-controlled territory in Jonglei State January 31, 2014. [Photo by Goran Tomasevic/REUTERS]

JUBA – South Sudan’s main armed opposition group, SPLA-IO, led by First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny has said that the group’s decision to suspend its participation from joint security mechanisms and peace monitoring bodies was peaceful and should not be distorted into a declaration of war.

Two days ago, the SPLM-IO said in a statement following a meeting of the group’s Political Bureau that it is suspending its participation in the joint security mechanisms owing to continued attacks on its positions by South Sudan People’s Defense Forces which it said has not witnessed any reaction from the peace monitors.

The security mechanisms, comprising representatives from different parties to the 2018 peace agreement  including the SPLM-IO, include Joint Defense Board (JDB), Joint Transitional Security Committee (JTSC), Joint Military Ceasefire Commission (JMCC), Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR Board), Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM), the National Transitional Committee (NTC), and the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC).

The SPLM-IO said it was “Deeply concerned by the ongoing attacks on SPLM/SPLA (IO) cantonments and training centers in Kaljak and Mirmir in Unity State and in Jekou in Upper Nile State, the PB approved the suspension of participation of SPLM/SPLA (IO) in the security mechanisms’ meetings pending the resolution of the issues raised at the political level.”

But this morning, the spokesman of South Sudan People’s Defense Forces Major General Lul Ruai Koang said the group has declared war by the withdrawal from the joint security bodies and accused the SPLA-IO of launching attacks on its positions in different areas in Upper Nile and Unity states.

But in a counter-statement this afternoon, SPLA-IO spokesman Col. Lam Paul Gabriel said the decision by the SPLA-IO to withdraw from the joint security mechanisms was largely peaceful and should not be considered as a declaration of war and urged the SSPDF not to cover up their actions of jeopardizing the peace agreement.

“The SPLA-IO position on suspension of mechanisms meeting is peaceful but not a declaration of war. The SSPDF should not cover up their war campaign against the SPLA-IO by lying publicly about their actions against the SPLA-IO in Guol,” Lam said in the statement extended to Sudans Post.

The senior opposition official further said the Machar-led opposition movement “remains committed to the implementing of the security arrangements and reserves the right to self -defense.”

Source: Culled From Sudan Post.