S’Sudanese troops accused of suffocating 50 civilians

South Sudanese government troops have reportedly killed 50 civilians by keeping them in a hot container where they suffocated, a commission monitoring the ceasefire between the government and rebels said.

“About 50 people suffocated in a container on 22 October in northern Unity State’’, the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission said in a report made public at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa late Sunday.

The commission also reported other violations of the peace deal signed by President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar in August.

They included “rape and murder” by unidentified uniform men in November, and the killing of 12 people in the ambush of a civilian vehicle by rebels on December 2015.

According to reports, the militarised power struggle between Kiir and Machar, had killed tens of thousands and displaced more than 2.3 million people since mid-December 2013.

The peace agreement foresees the establishment of a transitional government including government and rebel representatives, but its implementation is “lagging far behind schedule” and the “agreement risks becoming ineffectual,” JMEC Chairman Festus Mogae said in the report.

The commission accused Kiir of “contradicting the terms of the agreement” by announcing the division of South Sudan into 28 states, up from the previous 10 states.

The rebels want Kiir to cancel the move, which they regard as a form of gerrymandering aimed at diluting their power in the future government.

Reacting to the commission’s report, presidential Spokesman Ateny Wek told newsmen that “we don’t have that information”, while calling the allegations “completely ridiculous and fabricated lies by people working for regime change.”

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