The South Sudan opposition has lashed out at the Ugandan government for supporting embattled President Salva Kiir by bombing rebel positions in Jonglei state.
The attacks, the opposition delegation said, could jeopardise peace talks under way in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, even as continuing violence between government and opposition forces has led to over 1000 deaths and the displacement of over 200,000 civilians in South Sudan.
The fighting erupted three weeks ago after a prolonged power struggle between Mr. Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar. Mr. Kiir has imprisoned 11 senior political leaders even as Mr. Machar mobilised sections of the national army against the government.
“The Ugandan air force made consecutive bombings on the 8th and 9th January under the instruction of President Salva Kiir,” said Hussein Mar Nyuot, spokesperson for the opposition delegation, “While … [we] are pursuing a peaceful solution to the conflict, Ugandan military are busy killing our innocent population in Jonglei.”
In December, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had urged the rebels to begin talks with the government, failing which the Ugandan government would send troops to support Mr. Kiir.
While talks have begun, an unknown number of Ugandan troops have entered South Sudan on the pretext of protecting critical infrastructure.
The strikes, the opposition said, confirmed that Ugandan troops in South Sudan were not simply protecting vital oil and transport installations, but were actively siding with the government.
“I feel it is a failure of intelligence on the side of the Ugandans,” said Mabior Garang, an opposition spokesperson,
“I would appeal to them to review their decision and get out of South Sudan.”
In Addis Ababa, the talks are focused on a cessation of hostilities and the release of the 11 political prisoners.
While Mr. Kiir has refused to release the detainees pending further investigation, the detainees themselves have indicated that the talks should continue without them, according to a statement released by the mediators from the Intergovernmental Agency on Development (IGAD), a regional grouping of East African states.
Keywords: South Sudan violence,