Internal clashes within the opposing Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA-IO) forced the Council of Ministers of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) to hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss the situation.
The SPLA-IO is the military force of the opposing Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM-IO).
In a statement seen by the East Africa, the second most powerful body of the regional bloc on Monday invited the foreign ministers of the member states to an emergency meeting.
“The agenda for its emergency meeting will be to discuss the current political situation in South Sudan which requires the urgent attention of the council,” the statement said.
The urgent appeal came after reported clashes between forces loyal to the former SPLA-IO chief of general staff, Lt. Gen. Gatwech Dual, fought in Magenis over the weekend.
First Vice President spokesman Riek Machar said at least 27 Gatwech faction soldiers were killed in the weekend’s military clashes.
Colonel Lam Gabriel Paul said that among those killed on the enemy side were two prominent generals.
Cease military action
Reacting to the incident, Edmund Yakani, executive director of Community Empowerment for Progress – a civic education, human rights and peacebuilding institution – called on the warring parties to cease all military action and resolve their grievances in a non-violent manner.
“The citizens of South Sudan are tired of gun violence. The leaders of the warring SPLM-IO factions should take responsibility for the dialogue and find a solution to immediately resolve their misunderstanding.
“This negative development which is undermining the process of transition from the situation of violence to peace throughout South Sudan is a clear demonstration of the unwillingness of some political and military leaders to implement the signed revitalized peace agreement.” , Yakani said.
Yakani, who is a civil society signatory to the peace agreement, urged the warring factions to respect the cessation of hostilities agreement.
“The protection of civilians and human rights must not be compromised by any of the parties to the conflict in Magenis,” he said.
On Wednesday last week, a group of senior SPLM-IO generals announced that they had sacked Dr Machar as the group’s commander, accusing him of going back on the movement’s vision.
The SPLM-IO generals have apparently replaced Machar with his former army chief Simon Gatwech Dual with immediate effect. Dr Machar’s political bureau condemned the move and labeled the generals behind the plan as saboteurs of peace.