NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 12 – South Sudan First Vice President Riek Machar has directed his troops to stop hostilities in response to a cease fire called by President Salva Kiir.
In an interview with Eye Radio in Juba, Machar ordered his soldiers to put down arms, after more than 200 people were killed in renewed fighting that is threatening to plunge the world’s youngest nation in war.
“I want to reciprocate the declaration of universal cease fire and I am informing the troops that have been fighting to respect this ceasefire and to remain where they are now,” he stated.
Following his call, the SPLA Chief of General Staff, Paul Malong, ordered the army to return to their barracks with immediate effect and stated that any soldier found on the street or looting civilian property will be arrested.
“The ceasefire will take effect one hour from now, when I am speaking. I have instructed all the commanders of the SPLA to respect this, I have met with them and they are now transmitting it to their forces,” he pointed out.
The order read on SSBC by the SPLA spokesperson, Brigadier Lul Ruai, says any soldier found on the street or looting civilian property will be arrested.
The order further warns that any soldier or officer that will resist arrest will be shot at.
The United Nations and IGAD have expressed alarm over days of violence between the army and ex-rebels.
On Monday, Kiir ordered a ceasefire after a new day of heavy fighting in the capital Juba that sent thousands of people fleeing and threatened a return to civil war.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had called for an immediate arms embargo against South Sudan and also appealed to the UN Security Council for targeted sanctions against those involved in the fighting.
The UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) should also be strengthened with attack helicopters, Ban said.
UNMISS said “more than 7,000 people” had sought shelter at two compounds it runs for the displaced in Juba, while fighting was also reported in the south-eastern town of Torit where thousands fled to a UN base.
Intense battles were fought Monday with tanks and helicopter gunships deployed and artillery and mortar fire heard in parts of the city.