ADDIS ABABA (AFP) – South Sudan’s rebels on Saturday accused government forces of attacking their positions, just hours after the two sides promised an immediate halt to their nearly 11-month-old civil war.
Chief rebel negotiator Taban Deng said troops loyal to President Salva Kiir launched an assault earlier in the day from their positions around the hotly-contested northern oil hub of Bentiu.
He said the rebels “condemn in the strongest terms possible the continuous aggression and violation” of the ceasefire, and called on regional peace mediators to investigate the incident.
South Sudan’s army spokesman Philip Aguer, however, insisted government troops “have not moved anywhere” and that he was unaware of any fresh outbreaks of fighting.
Earlier Saturday, Kiir and rebel leader Rief Machar ended two days of fresh talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, and pledged to an “unconditional, complete and immediate end to all hostilities”.
The East African regional bloc IGAD, which has been trying to broker a peace deal, has given the pair just 15 days to finalise a transitional power-sharing accord.
Kiir and Machar signed a ceasefire at the start of the year and several subsequent deals to renew it, but the truces have been short lived. IGAD said yet another violation would have severe consequences.