NAS leader accuses government forces of provoking fighting in Yei River State

NAS leader Thomas Cirillo Swaka. photo: File

Juba, February 26, 2019 (SSNA) — The leader of the National Salvation Front (NAS) Thomas Cirillo has accused the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) of instigating the ongoing armed conflict in Yei River State, saying the many parties to the September 2018 peace agreement signed the deal simply because they were forced to do so.

The NAS leader branded the pact as a pro-Kiir deal.

“The government is attacking us because the other forces decided to go to Juba under the Revitalized Peace Agreement, but the National Salvation and other forces of the South Sudan National Democratic Alliance refused to sign the agreement because it gave everything to Salva Kiir,” Cirillo said, according to VOA South Sudan Focus.

The rebel group explains South Sudan’s government ordered its forces to attack NAS positions from four different locations and that fighting could break out at any time.

“We have been warning people a few weeks ago that the government is preparing its forces, moving their forces from Juba toward Rokon, toward Torit, toward Lobonok and toward Yei. They are preparing to attack us,” he explains, adding, “We are forced to sign this agreement. Many people who signed the agreement did not sign it from their hearts. People coerced to sign the agreement, and that is why we say this agreement is not for the people of South Sudan.”

The report also states that the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s (IGAD) special envoy for South Sudan Ambassador Ismail Wais met with the NAS leader Monday and discussed ways to stop the conflict in Yei River State.

The United Nations says more than 13,000 South Sudanese crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to recent military escalation between the SSPDF and the NAS.

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