South Sudan's ceasefire risks unraveling due to violence: monitors

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JUBA, March 2 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan's permanent ceasefire is increasingly at risk of unraveling following the recent intensified fighting in the oil-rich states of Upper Nile and Unity states, the country's ceasefire monitors said Wednesday.

Asrat Denero Amad, the new chairperson for the Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM), the body monitoring the December 2017 Cessation of Hostilities (COH) Agreement, warned it risked unraveling due to intermittent violence.

"Pertaining to the very critical issues of permanent ceasefire, there is concern that the ceasefire is under pressure and it could be fracturing, there are areas where it is apparently being undermined," Amad told members of the ceasefire body in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan on Feb. 26 appealed to national and local leaders, and armed groups to immediately stop the violence in Unity state. It was responding to the fighting that began in Mirmir Payam, Unity State between the Sudan People's Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) and armed youths that spread to several villages in Koch, Mayiandit and Leer.

In January, fighting erupted in Upper Nile state between SPLA-IO under First Vice President Riek Machar and soldiers led by Ochan Puot who defected late last year from the latter joining the South Sudan army (SSPDF).

Amad disclosed that similar fighting occurred in Toroche, Upper Nile state between the SPLA-IO Kitguang faction led by Machar's former Chief of Staff Simon Gatwech Dual and SPLA-IO forces.

He urged international partners to continue supporting CTSAMVM in order to salvage the now fragile ceasefire at this critical phase of the peace process.

Teshome Gemechu Aderie, the outgoing CTSAMVM chairperson, expressed worries over the delay in implementation of the critical pending tasks such as the security arrangements.

"The dynamic of the security environment and the spectrum of tasks in the remaining phase of the peace implementation are going to make our operation far more complex compared with the previous one," said Aderie.

South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013 following a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his then deputy Riek Machar leading soldiers loyal to the respective leaders to fight.

The conflict killed tens of thousands and displaced millions more both internally and externally.

The 2015 peace agreement signed to end the conflict collapsed following renewed violence in July 2016.

The 2018 revitalized peace deal signed under international pressure eventually saw the former warring parties form the transitional unity government in 2020. Enditem

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