Tuesday, March 01, 2016

South Sudanese Army Leaves in Juba Limited Force Over Security Vacuum
March 1, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudanese government on Tuesday said it has left behind a limited force in the national capital, Juba, allegedly to provide security for the capital until when a joint force with opposition faction is deployed.

In accordance with the August 2015 peace agreement signed between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, leader of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), government forces should withdraw from Juba to 25kms away. A joint police and military force of more than eight thousand would be deployed in the capital to provide security.

However, units of forces from the SPLM-IO have not yet arrived in Juba, forcing the government not to withdraw all its forces from the capital, according to Michael Makuei Lueth, minister of information.

“The government is fully committed to demilitarizing Juba in accordance with the security arrangement. This process has already started with redeployment of the forces, including some forces from presidential guards force division,” Lueth told reporters in Juba on Tuesday.

“The redeployment process would have been completed long time ago if the SPLM-IO forces had come and become part of the joint force; but the coming of SPLM-IO forces is slow,” he added.

Lueth further explained that due to the delay in arrival of the SPLM-IO forces to Juba, it was necessary to leave behind an unspecified number of troops in the capital.

He asserted that “Security in Juba is paramount not only to a political agreement, but also to ensuring that there is no repeat of the fighting in the capital” that sparked the conflict which consumed the country for more than two years.

He also attributed the delay for the coming of the opposition forces to logistical and political obstacles, raising fears it could possibly lead to the delay of the planned return of the opposition leader, Machar.

Observers say the return to Juba of troops from the SPLM-IO is a key step in the implementation of the peace agreement, particularly the formation of a transitional government of national unity.

The government and SPLM-IO reached an agreement that the armed opposition faction would send to Juba 1,370 armed military personnel in preparation for the return to Juba of Machar, while the rest of over 1,500 would come later by river. But it is unlikely the troops will beat the 1 March deadline.

Government officials and diplomats close to the implementation process say they are waiting for key information from the opposition faction for them to assemble their forces.

Armed opposition officials say neither the government nor the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) has availed shelter, food, water and health care for the soon to arrive forces, causing the delay in their arrival.


No comments: