April 17, 2012 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s army (SPLA) says that some Murle cattle herders are avoiding handing over their weapons to the military as part of a statewide disarmament campaign in Jonglei following severe violence earlier this year.
- Lt Gen Kuol Deim Kuol, head of the South Sudan army (SPLA) disarmament campaign in Jonglei State (ST)
The SPLA captain responsible for disarmament in the Anyidi area, Philip Bol Akuei, said that reports of Murle raiders were reaching his forces but poor roads and the distances involved means that they are not mobile enough to respond.
Some groups in Jonglei fear that once they surrender their weapons, they will be vulnerable to attack. Akuei said that the SPLA are on maximum alert to respond to any threat to civilians.
Akuei said that police had clashed with a group of 30 Murle tribesmen carrying machines guns on Tuesday. Two people were wounded, he said.
The head of the SPLA’S military observer unit in charge of the disarmament process in Jonglei, Major Michael Kon, said that the army will be better able to provide security and respond to cattle raids, which are common in many parts of South Sudan, if communities deliver timely information to the SPLA.
He said that sharing information with the army would enable them to provide security, especially now that many communities have disarmed.
Thousands of citizens from rural areas have still not returned to their homes after a series of raids and counter-raids in December and January that displaced over 100,000 people.
Over 6,000 men from the Luo Nuer group attacked the Murle’s Pibor County triggering reprisal attacks in Nuer and Dinka areas of South Sudan’s largest state. The UN say that over 1,000 people are believed to have died in Jonglei in fighting between the three tribes in 2011.
South Sudan’s president launched the disarmament process in mid-March, one of many since 2005, to try and end the violence.
Major Kon said that the army wanted to see no civilians left with arms in the state. However, there are fears that some groups may be avoiding the disarmament by hiding in the bush or burying their guns.
Many of Jonglei’s rural areas require basic water and sanitation, police, and schools to reopen before people can attempt to return the their areas and resume cultivation.
According to the commander of the disarmament campaign, Lieutenant General Kuol Deim Kuol, the SPLA is deployed across all 11 counties of Jonglei State. He urged civilians to speed up surrendering their arms before the deadline at the end of this month.
He warned that after 30 April any civilian who is still carrying a gun will be arrested.
- Luo Nuer spiritual leader Dak Kueth in Jonglei before the SPLA disarmament campaign. Feb, 2012 (ST)
The most prominent figure to avoid the process is self-proclaimed Nuer prophet or "magician" Dak Kueth who escaped the SPLA and headed towards the Ethiopian borders with an estimated 200 heavy armed men.
However, Kuol says that SPLA forces and police have being deployed everywhere in Jonglei state and that an additional 3,000 troops will move deep into jungle to pursue those who run away with arms.
Kuol said that so far the SPLA has collected over 10,000 firearms from civilians in and the process was still ongoing on in the counties of Pigi and Atar.
Jonglei governor Kuol Manyang Juuk said that over 4,000 policemen will be deployed across his state before the end of this month. He called upon civilians to go back to their houses to cultivate their farms without fear.
- Jonglei police (ST)
SPLA General David Yauyau, who is from Pibor County in Jonglei State, recently defected to Khartoum according to South Sudan’s military. Yauyau had joined the SPLA last having previously rebelled after the April 2010 elections, where failed to win a seat in the Jonglei Assembly representing a Murle area.
However, the SPLA have been keen to stress that he is not a threat to security or the disarmament campaign.