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South Sudan: Tension As Army Arrest, Disarm Machar’s Forces in Bahr el Ghazal

SPLA-IO spokesperson Lam Paul Gabriel said government forces arrested and disarmed their soldiers who were in a convoy

South Sudan opposition army, SPLA-IO says there has been tension between its soldiers and the government army in Bahr el Ghazal, sparking fears for resumption of hostilities akin to the 2016 implosion.

Rival leaders President Salva Kiir and His current deputy Riek Machar of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) formed a transitional coalition government in February, in an attempt to end years of ruinous conflict that has killed almost 400,000 and forced millions from their homes.

The parties are now facing a daunting task of uniting former enemies into a single unified national army.

SPLA-IO spokesperson Lam Paul Gabriel said government forces arrested and disarmed their soldiers who were in a convoy in Nyabor heading to Wadho Alel on 18 July to prepare to receive the opposition governor of Western Bar El Gazal State.

Gabriel warned against the government move but later said it was as a result of misunderstanding between troop commanders.

“The SPLA-IO respects the decision of the SSPDF to disarm civilians in their areas of control but not the SPLA-IO forces or civilians in areas controlled by the SPLA-IO,” Gabriel said.

“The SPLA-IO calls upon RJMEC, JDB and CTSAMVM to investigate this violation and bring those responsible to book,” he further said.

The South Sudanese peace parties have failed to implement the security arrangements and engage a process to reunify the security forces, some explain it by the lack of money and others by the lack of political will.

The IGAD, the African Union and the UN Security Council in vain urged the South Sudanese leaders to expedite implementation of the security arrangements which is the core of the 2018 peace agreement.

Last week, the IGAD heads of state and government gave the government one month (until 13 August) to settle the outstanding pre-transitional tasks before to intervene directly to find a solution to it.

Otherwise, “the IGAD Chair will intervene to directly engage with Parties with a view to assist in concluding the pending matters”.