Rebels loyal to former South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar have today announced that they are closing off the major highway linking Uganda to South Sudan.
In a statement signed by the General chief of staff for operations of the rebels Maj Gen James Koang Chuol, the rebels “advise travellers for their own safety to avoid the Juba Nimule highway”.
Gen Chuol says that his forces have “shutdown” the highway effective Thursday August 20, 2015 starting 10:00am until further notice.
The Juba-Nimule highway, the only road that connects Uganda to South Sudan has become a matter of conflict after the rebels accused government forces of attacking their base in Pageri, in Imatong state that is close to the border.
The rebels accuse the government of South Sudan of choosing war over peace after President, Salva Kiir declined to sign a peace agreement earlier this week asking for more time. The peace deal was prepared by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Uganda army, spokesperson Paddy Ankunda said he would comment on the matter after seeing the statement but said that the road was open and free for Ugandan traders to transport their goods to Juba.
South Sudan has been at war for 19 months now and over 2 million people have been displaced by the fighting and another 10,000 estimated dead from the fighting. The fighting emerged from a split within the ruling party SPLM.
Uganda, which shares a order with the country has 2500 troops deployed in Juba and Bor to protect the government from being overrun by the rebel forces.