South Sudan First Vice President Riek Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition have demanded that their full complement of troops allowed under the security arrangements deal be finally brought to Juba following attacks waged on their troops in the city.
Both SPLA and SPLA-IO were allowed a limited number of troops in the city under the terms of the peace deal and a follow-on security deal. The SPLA-IO troops were brought to Juba in March and April this year but the full number authorized was never reached and hundreds have since been killed in fighting that lasted from Friday to Monday in Juba.
Architects of the peace agreement signed in Addis Ababa last year envisioned that the partial demilitarization of Juba besides the creation of various ceasefire and coordination mechanisms would prevent accidental clashes between the two rival armies turned ‘peace partners’ in Juba. Some leaders of the SPLM-IO in recent days, however, claim that the recent clashes were not accidental but rather well-planned attempts to eliminate their forces.
Manawa Gatkuoth, deputy spokesman of the SPLM-IO, demanded yesterday that the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) take measures to transport the balance of SPLA-IO troops in Upper Nile to Juba.
He accused the government forces in Juba led by Salva Kiir and militias loyal to him of carrying out assassinations of their troops in Juba since their arrival to Juba up until the outbreak of fighting late last week. He pointed out that the peace deal had provided for the creation of a joint police force to take over the security of Juba but instead many other government troops remained in the city.
Manawa called for the speedy deployment of joint forces to carry out this responsibility, besides demanding the withdrawal of SPLA forces and pro-government militias from the city of Juba immediately. He further accused government troops of responsibility for the looting that took place in Juba over recent days.
“We urge the African Union , the United Nations and especially JMEC that the remainder of our troops that are stationed in Kaldak be brought to Juba. Secondly, we want the joint police forces that were in training to be brought inside Juba.”
Separately, army spokesman Lul Ruai claimed that during the recent fighting the army successfully overran the SPLA-IO base in the Jebel area of Juba and drove their forces out of the city. “We chased them from the city… and they ran away far,” he told Radio Tamazuj, in what amounts to an admission that their forces waged attacks on the SPLA-IO cantonment site.