October 19th 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – The main armed opposition group, the SPLM-IO, led by the country’s former First Vice-President Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon denied on Friday report by UN that it is responsible for carrying out abduction against innocent civilians in Yei River state.
On Thursday, the United Nations Human Rights office accused the SPLM-IO as well as the South Sudan government of abducting more than 900 children in Central Equatoria between April and August this year.
In a statement issued on Friday, the SPLA-IO deputy military spokesman Col. Lam Paul Gabriel said the group doesn’t have any policy against civilians saying it is aimed at protecting them.
“The SPLA IO doesn’t have a policy of harassment against any civilian. Our duty is to protect civilians and their properties while working hard to achieve our reform agenda in South Sudan,” Lam said in the statement seen by the Nyamilepedia.
the statement further said the only attack the SPLM-IO was aware of was a one carried out in May in Nagero and the group’s forces withdrew from the area leaving government troops going door to door killing civilians.
“The SPLA IO is aware only of the attack and capture of Nagero in May/2018; not any village as mentioned in the UNMISS report. That fight in Nagero happened at a barrack not where civilians reside. It was after the SPLA IO forces withdrew that the regime’s forces went from door to door burning houses, looting properties and raping girls, women and elderlies leading to civilians leaving Nagero to DRC and Namatina for safety,” the statement further said.
Lam pointed out to the existence of other armed groups in the Equatoria region whom he accused of working to derail peace process and tarnish the image of the SPLM-IO there.
“There are other armed forces in Western Equatoria that have been so aggressive towards civilians. They act as counter insurgents to tarnish the image of the SPLA IO; the regime’s Governor of Gbudue Hon. Daniel Badagbu also confirmed this during a meeting with UNMISS Boss Shearer in July/2018. He further said in one of his rallies that there are three groups in Gbudue that are causing insecurity in the area,” he added.
He identified forces loyal to the First Vice President Taban Deng Gai and minister Jemma Nunu Kumba as the one working to tarnish the image of the SPLM-IO to derail peace deal.