The second round of the high-level revitalization forum has hit yet another deadlock after SPLM-IO walked out of the talks, citing alleged violation of ceasefire by the government.
On Sunday night, a fighting – of which various government officials gave conflicting details – erupted in Nasir in Latjor state.
According to the Latjor Minister of Information, Peter Tuach, the gunfight broke out between the government forces and SPLA-IO under the former first vice president.
Peter Tuach told Eye Radio on Monday morning that the clashes started as SPLA soldiers were trying to rescue four of their colleagues who were kidnapped by the IO.
Speaking to Eye Radio via phone from Nasir, Mr Tuach said the SPLA soldiers were fishing at a river when they were held captive:
“This morning, the SPLA tried to rescue those SPLA soldiers and then the fighting started. It was provoked by SPLA-IO by kidnapping SPLA soldiers at a fishing point,” said Mr Tuech.
However, Michael Makuei Lueth, the national minister of information said the government forces had nothing to do with the clashes.
Makuei told reporters in Addis Ababa on Monday that the fighting erupted between armed civilians and the opposition forces loyal to Dr Riek Machar.
“The civilians are sometimes better armed than the government and the rebels. So, these civilians – because of their disputes over their property which are taken by the rebels every now and then – disagreed and decided to fight the rebels,” he stressed.
“It is taking place in the rebel-held area. So the government is not party to it.”
In response, nine opposition groups issued a joint statement, condemning the clashes.
“The government of South Sudan – that is a partner in the peace process – has demonstrated lack of seriousness and political will to negotiate in good faith by its refusal to sign the declaration of principles that was jointly discussed and signed by all the other parties to the revitalization,” said Dr Kwaje Lasu, on behalf of the coalition of opposition groups.
“The government continues its attacks on opposition positions through the country; the latest of which is Nyatot in Nasir, today.”
The second phase of the High-Level Revitalization Forum started last week and is expected to end on Friday. However, parties don’t seem to reach any point of agreement.