March 11, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s army (SPLA) said on Monday that it will withdraw all its troops from the border with neighbouring Sudan over the next three weeks in order to establish a long-awaited demilitarised buffer zone.
- South Sudan’s minister of information, Barnaba Marial (R) and SPLA spokesman, Philip Aguer (L) at a press conference in Juba, April 1, 2008 (ST)
Philip Aguer, the army’s spokesman, made the announcement a day after president Salva Kiir issued an order instructing the army’s general chief of staff to immediately withdraw troops from the 2,000km border, which has been tense and seen numerous military clashes since South Sudan’s independence in 2011.
On Friday Sudan and South Sudan came to agreement on how to implement the demilitarised zone which two sides have failed to establish despite committing to its creation on various occasions since it was agreed on in a deal in September 2012.
“Troops have started moving to the designated areas away from the buffer zone," Aguer told journalists at a news conference in Juba on Monday, reading out a letter on withdrawal plans and orders from the general chief of staff of the SPLA, James Hoth Mai.
He said the SPLA’s general headquarters had issued orders for all divisions along the border to begin the withdrawal so that they are 10km south of the largely un-demarcated border, as per September’s African Union-mediated agreement.
“We will withdraw 3km south at the border with Sudan in Western Bahr el Ghazal State from our current positions because we are already in 7km away from the border. The SPLA also will withdraw 22km south of Kiir Adim and 22km south of War Guet. In Unity they will move 3km south of Teshwin because they are already in 7km away from the border. In Upper Nile they will be away from Wun Thou 3km south because they are already out the border 7km", he explained.
The order was issued on March 10 and the withdrawal will be completed by April 5, Aguer said.