[JURIST] South Sudan government troops on Sunday reportedly attacked a village in the country’s Unity state despite a ceasefire that was set to begin the same day. The attack was reported [AP report] to the Associated Press by John Riek, who coordinates relief activities in a part of the state held by the opposition. Only one day prior, spokesman for the UN mission in South Sudan Joe Contreras reported that violence in the South Sudan had continued [AP report] between the country’s warring factions into the weekend despite the approaching ceasefire. South Sudan’s Military Spokesman Colonel Phillip Aguer stated that should the attacks continue, the only available response would be self-defense. This is not the first ceasefire that has been signed. While signing the ceasefire on Wednesday, President Salva Kiir [BBC profile] called several parts of the agreement flawed, and rebels have stated that this indicates that the president is not fully committed to the agreement. The US has indicated that they will sanction anyone who violates the ceasefire.
The South Sudanese Civil War [JURIST backgrounder; BBC backgrounder] has persisted since December 2013 when President Salva Kiir Mayardit accused his ex-vice-president, Riek Machar, of plotting to overthrow him. In July, the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs urged [JURIST report] those involved on all sides of the South Sudan conflict to end their fighting and make peace in the interest of protecting innocent civilians. In May, Amnesty International reported [JURIST report] that South Sudan government troops were committing human rights abuses, such as abusing civilians and lighting villages on fire amid ongoing fighting in the region. In March, South Sudan’s National Legislative Assembly [official website] voted to extend Kiir’s term by three years following the cancellation of elections that were to be held in June, and the dissolution of negotiations to end the country’s internal conflict. Earlier in March UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] urged [JURIST report] Kiir and Machar to end the hostilities and comply with international law to avoid sanctions.