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Kiir calls for ‘collective’ ceasefire and unity among leaders

President Salva Kiir, as the C-in-C of the Defense Forces, attends the 34th Anniversary of the SPLA Day at Bilpam in Juba on May 18, 2017. PHOTO//Maal Maker, Office of the President.

President Salva Kiir says for any unilateral ceasefire to hold, both sides to the conflict needs to respect and abide by it.

He said his declarations are often not respected by anti-government forces.

In March, President Kiir set up a commitment to announce a unilateral ceasefire in the country during an IGAD summit held in Nairobi Kenya.

Some members of the international community, including Norway, the United States and the United Kingdom welcomed the commitment and have been calling on the President to ensure that a permanent ceasefire is declared and implemented.

This is because right groups and UN agencies have often accused government forces of launching attacks on villages and towns in pursuit of anti-government forces.

President Kiir said his unilateral ceasefire can not be binding on opposition forces, since it requires both sides to agree to it.

“You cannot declare a ceasefire for yourself but you declare a ceasefire so that two sides respect it all. And that the unilateral ceasefire is not binding on the other side,” Kiir said.

He added that the SPLA has the right to defend itself if attacked.

“I make sure that I don’t violate my own ceasefire, but I have the right to defend myself, if I am attacked by anybody,” Kiir said.

President Kiir was speaking during the celebration of the SPLA day in Juba on Thursday at Bilpam.

The official celebrations were differed from 16th May, to 18th May.

He appealed to South Sudanese leaders to embrace the spirit of unity that existed during the civil war, and during the referendum.

“Nobody can be denied not to be the President, but we can not sit on one chair, 10 of us at a time. I don’t know where have we thrown that uniting factor that kept us during the struggle? For 21 years we remained one people until we achieved our independence. Where is that spirit. As a people we must reignite the vision that sustained us during the long struggle. Nobody alone can not develop this country. Let us unite and let us forget about our differences,” Kiir remarked.