SPLA Forces Gain Control of South Sudan’s Kaya Town
Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers walk along a road in Mathiang near Bor, on January 31, 2014 (AFP Photo)
June 23, 2017 (JUBA)- South Sudanese army (SPLA) Friday has gained control of Kaya town in Yei River state on the border with Uganda, confirming previous reports of clashes in the area between the government forces and the fighters of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO)
A high-ranking military officer who declined to be identified because he is not authorised to speak with the media told Sudan Tribune on Friday that their troops have finally entered Kaya after several months of on and off fighting with armed opposition forces.
“We have just entered Kaya this afternoon. There was no fighting. We arrived peacefully from Yei town. The situation appears to be normalising and this is why we came to open the road," said the army general.
"We will be coordinating our operation with colleagues from Uganda defence forces who will be stationed on the side of the border. Our security strategy and plans of action will be coordinated," he further said.
A legislator representing an area covering Kaya at the National Legislative Assembly in Juba said he received reports from local people that a heavily armed convoy of more than 10 vehicles had entered Kaya on Friday afternoon after a platoon of soldiers first entered on Thursday through the Yei-Kaya road.
It is the first attempt of the government forces to use this road after months of clashes and attacks.
Also, it is not clear why the movement of the government forces did not encounter resistance.
Several observers attribute the development to the split of the opposition group in the area, as some former rebels defected to the government side and others decided to hold out and keep their troops in defensive positions at South Sudan- Democratic Republic of Congo border.
The Yei River state information minister and the SPLA official spokesperson did not make any official statements about the development in the newly created Yei River state.
The South Sudanese President Salva Kiir declared a unilateral cessation of hostilities but his army on the ground continues to wage war on the armed opposition in a bid to consolidate the government position when the IGAD mediators call for a forum to revitalise the implementation of the peace agreement.
The UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix told the UN Security Council this week that despite the presidential ceasefire the SPLA continues to carry out attacks in various parts of the country.
"In the north, the SPLA has dislodged Opposition forces from their strongholds on the west bank of the Nile River. In the East, it has taken towns in northern Greater Jonglei," he said
Lacroix added that in the west, clashes between Government and Opposition forces around Wau forced some 22,000 people to take refuge with the UN mission. While the fighting in the southern part of the country has left towns in the Equatoria with as little as 10% of their previous populations.