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Ceasefire monitors concerned over clashes in S. Sudan areas

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September 4, 2019 (JUBA) - The body monitoring South Sudan ceasefire (CTSAMVM) has expressed concerns over military confrontation incidents involving non-signatories to the peace agreement in Aweil East, Raja and Yei River State areas.

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Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers take a break during a military assault drill in Nzara on the outskirts of Yambio November 29, 2013. (Reuters Photo)

“These incidents are a matter of concern. They are being investigated by CTSAMVM, and we will discuss the findings from our investigation into Aweil East here today,” Maj. Gen. Desta Abiche Ageno, the CTSAMVM chairman said at a meeting in Juba Thursday.

“CTSAMVM continues to monitor the overall security situation and reports of tension in order to encourage early mediation to prevent escalation,” he added.

The CTSAMVM is mandated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to monitor and verify the implementation of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities as per the peace deal.

Abiche, however, said the ceasefire continues to hold with no reported incidents of clashes between the parties to the revitalized agreement.

The official said cantonment process remains slow and CTSAMVM welcomes the IGAD Council of Ministers’ communiqué resolving that at least 50% of the 83,000 necessary unified forces be cantoned and barracked, trained and deployed before the end of September.

“CTSAMVM acknowledges an increasing number of troops have moved to cantonment areas. However, many challenges remain, and commanders consistently report to our MVTs that inadequate logistical support continues to impede the full deployment of their forces to cantonment sites,” he told the meeting held in Juba.

Abiche also congratulated the Joint Military Ceasefire Committee (JMCC) on the launch of cantonment registration and screening, an important tool in ensuring the cantonment process is timely and orderly.

He, however, urged the parties to redouble their efforts to fully operationalize the cantonment process, including registration and screening, in order to achieve the training of the necessary unified forces and redeployment of those forces.

“This will enable the security arrangements to be in place before the Transitional Period commences,” stressed Abiche.

Meanwhile, the CTSAMVM chair expressed concerns over what he described as the slow pace at which the warring factions are vacating civilian buildings as demanded by the ceasefire body.

“Of the 36 buildings reported as occupied when we last met, 3 have been vacated by the SSPDF [South Sudan Peoples Defense Forces], but 4 buildings have been newly occupied by the SPLM/A-IO [armed opposition faction] - Kandila Primary School, Kandila Church, Kandila Healthcare Centre and Dogondo Primary School - all in Yei River State,” he remarked.

Abiche further told the meeting that a total of 37 civilian buildings are now occupied, mostly by government forces.

“CTSAMVM urges the parties to vacate these buildings immediately to enable to people of South Sudan to resume their lives,” he said.

South Sudan descended into civil war in mid-December 2013 and the ongoing conflict has created one of the fastest-growing refugee crises in the world.

In September 2018, South Sudan’s conflicting parties signed a final peace deal in Addis Ababa after negotiations brokered by the Sudanese government and mandated by regional nations.

(ST)

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