Gov’t accused of “unusual” deployment of troops in South Sudan towns

SPLA soldiers on guard in Bentiu, Unity state, Jan. 12, 2014. (Credit Radio Tamazuj)

September 26th 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – South Sudan government has been accused of unusual deployment of troops and armored vehicles in several towns in violation of the revitalized peace agreement the government signed with a number of opposition groups one year ago.

The agreement signed on September 12th 2018 in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, requires the parties to de-escalate tensions and stop deployment of troops to counter violations of a ceasefire agreement signed by President Salva Kiir and SPLM-IO leader Dr. Riek Machar early in June 2018.

The same agreement also requires the parties to immediately kick off the reunification process of the rival forces.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the main armed opposition group, SPLM-IO, said government troops and armored vehicles have been deployed in parts of the country’s Upper Nile and Unity states.

The news came almost a week after a senior rebel commander previously loyal to the Machar-led movement declared its defection from the group to the government of President Salva Kiir.

“Following the defection of General James Ochan Puot, the government of South Sudan has deployed its forces in civilian centers that are administered by the SPLM/SPLA (IO) in the following areas: Maiwut, Jotome, Wiechluak Jaak,” a statement signed by the group’s director of information and public relations Puok Both Baluang partly read.

The same statement said the main armed opposition group recently observed unusual deployment of troops in Nasir and Bentiu while saying the government has been reinforcing its troops in various fronts in some parts of the country.

“Recently, we observed that the government of South Sudan has also deployed new Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), for instance, two (2) APCs in Nasir and six (6) in Bentiu. They also have been reinforcing their forces in various fronts with ammunitions and weapons in all South Sudan,” the statement said.

The statement said the deployment of troops are “grave violations to the Revitalized Peace Agreement. Furthermore, it is also a demonstration of bad faith on the part of government.”

It urged the government of President Salva Kiir “to withdraw their forces from the aforementioned Civilian Centres in Maiwut area to its barracks in Pagak in accordance with the agreement.”

“We also call upon CTSAMVM and JMCC to immediately investigate these violations which pose a threat to the Implementation of the peace agreement.

“The SPLM/SPLA (IO) reiterates its full commitment to the implementation of the (R-ARCSS), in letter and spirit, as the only way to attain lasting peace in South Sudan.”

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