A South Sudanese minister has threatened that the government will attack the main stronghold of rebel forces if they reject Juba’s offer for a ceasefire.
On Saturday, South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei said the government troops are prepared to push the rebels out of Bentiu, the last state capital controlled by forces loyal to rebel leader Riek Machar.
“We will flush (Machar) out of Bentiu if he doesn’t accept the cessation of hostilities,” said the South Sudanese minister.
Machar, who seems cynical about the ceasefire offer, has said that any ceasefire must be serious and properly supervised.
“So until mechanisms for monitoring are established, when one says there is a unilateral ceasefire, there is no way that the other person would be confident that this is a commitment,” he said.
The comments come as heavy fighting between the government forces and rebels is going on in South Sudan’s oil-rich regions despite efforts by regional leaders to forge an immediate ceasefire.
Fighting broke out in South Sudan on December 15 after President Salva Kiir accused Machar, a former vice president who was sacked in July, of attempting to stage a coup.
Hilde Johnson, head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), says “over 1,000” people have been killed in the ongoing violence across the African country.
A new UN report also says the violence in South Sudan has displaced more than 120,000 people.
The government in Juba has been grappling with rampant corruption, unrest and conflict in the deeply impoverished but oil-rich nation.
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