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ADDIS ABABA - 26 Feb 2019

Cirillo vows to resist Kiir's administration

A South Sudanese rebel leader said on Tuesday they would defend themselves if attacked by government forces, and vowed to press ahead with his fight against the government.

General Thomas Cirillo Swaka told Radio Tamazuj that his forces have been fighting back in self-defense, saying the government is responsible for the spike in violence as it launched offensives against his forces in the Equatoria region.

 “I want to tell the people of South Sudan that we have never attacked government troops. It is the government that has been launching attacks on our positions so that they force us to sign the agreement,” he said.

“We will never surrender and our people will resist this regime. We will defend ourselves and the rights of our people of South Sudan until we find a solution to our problems so that we rebuild our country and reconcile our people,” he added.

There have been reports of a surge of violence in Yei River and Amadi states, where thousands of civilians are caught in the crossfire.

The United Nations refugee agency says fighting in Yei River State has displaced about 8,000 people forced an estimated 5,000 people to flee to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Cirillo called on the international community to fulfill its responsibility toward halting government atrocities in the country.

He pointed out that he met with the IGAD special envoy for South Sudan Ismail Wais in Ethiopia where they discussed matters pertaining to peace and stability in the country.

Cirillo, who has been called the biggest threat to the revitalised peace deal by the peace partners, vowed to continue the “struggle”.

The former army general, who leads a coalition of non-signatory armed groups, said: “This peace agreement will not bring peace in South Sudan and will not devolve powers to our people.”

“We want a peace agreement that can address the root causes of the conflict in South Sudan so that we end the war. We refrained from signing this agreement. We feel it is not a solution to our problems.”

IGAD envoy meets Cirillo

The East African bloc of nations IGAD said on Monday it held an urgent meeting with the leader of the National Salvation Front (NAS), Thomas Cirillo to discuss the timeframe and modalities for further engagements with him and his team.

In a statement extended to Radio Tamazuj, IGAD said its special envoy to South Sudan Ismail Wais and his team highlighted the urgency of stopping the ongoing hostilities especially in Yei River State and other affected areas.

The statement further said Wais urged Thomas Cirillo to give the ongoing engagement a chance to succeed by silencing the guns.

The Special Envoy called upon all other parties involved in hostilities to abide by the permanent ceasefire in the revitalised peace deal, according to the statement.

The meeting took place in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Cirillo, a former deputy army chief in South Sudan’s army, defected in March 2017 and formed the National Salvation Front (NAS), one of several splinter armed opposition groups in the country.