Tonj disarmament to continue despite deadly fighting

A contingent of SPLA-IG in a contested area in South Sudan's oil rich Unity State(Photo: file)

A contingent of SPLA-IG in a contested area in South Sudan’s oil-rich Unity State(Photo: file)

August 15, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) – The disarmament in South Sudan’s Tonj area of Warrap state will continue despite deadly fighting last week which led to the killing of 143 people including 45 servicemen and 98 civilians, the army has said.

Major General Lul Ruai Koang, the spokesman of the South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF) said in an exclusive interview with Nyamilepedia this afternoon that the disarmament which was temporarily halted due to fighting between civilians and the army would continue.

Lul revealed to Nyamilepedia that the army had no intention to kick off the process during the rainy season saying it was implemented at this time at the request of community leaders and traditional chiefs and dismissed some suggestions that the community was resistance to the process.

“The disarmament which was done [in Tonj] was at the request of local leaders and that it why it was done before the start of the raining season. It was requested earlier but it had to commence late because of the mobilization of resources and of forces,” Lul said.

Lul who also said in the interview that disarmament will not take place in the country’s Jonglei state where similar violence is ongoing said the army accepted the community request for disarmament at this time due to the level of the security in the area.

“We also did this selective disarmament based on the level of the insecurity in the area. So, the level of insecurity has gone very high in Greater Lakes and in Greater Tonj. So, there was a need for disarmament to be carried out there because the level of killing was really getting higher and higher every day,” he said.

He dismissed suggestions that the fighting was caused by resistance of the community against disarmament.

“The disarmament will continue because the fighting which took place last week has no relation with the disarmament. The residents there do not disagree with the disarmament and the fighting is not about the disarmament,” he said.

“The reason that led to the fighting is not the disarmament. They have agreed to be disarmed and to hand over the guns to the army. In return, the army promised to protect them. The disarmament started with a call to hand over the guns to the army,” he added.

He further said the “call was carried out with the help of traditional chiefs. So, what had happened was just a misunderstanding between two people or three. It was not a resistance to the disarmament. It was a disagreement over a red scarf. So, because it was not resistance, the disarmament will continue.”