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South Sudan army general calls for arms collection

December 31, 2017 (JUBA)- The commander of the ground forces in South Sudan army has called for a comprehensive disarmament of the civil population across the country, saying the possession of weapons by the unauthorized persons was the cause of rising deadly communal rifts.

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The SPLA displaying firearms in Rumbek’s Freedom Square from a disarmament campaign in Lakes state. (ST)

Lieutenant General Santino Deng Wol told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that the proliferation of illicit weapons has made it difficult for the army to assert control.

The senior military officer further stressed the importance of enhancing collective disarmament efforts, while offering prescriptions on how to realize and maintain an illicit?weapon?free country.

“As the army, we are not relenting on our efforts. We are working with the authorities and we are always doing our best to ensure communities are provided with the protection they deserve. Police, security and the army work in collaboration in these efforts to ensure safety and peacefulness of the country and the people," Wol said.

"That is why we moved into Gogrial state on the directive of the President and the state leadership to help in the collection of small arms. Now we have collected 3,599 pieces of different weapons. This is an attempt to stop this dangerous situation. Almost everyone in the communities in which we carried out disarmament is having access to weapons,” he added.

The general said the safety of civilians would be assured if the whole country is disarmed and provided the adequate security they deserve by the police, national security services and the army.

During the ongoing exercise, community leaders have been coming to me and say, General Santino, now you have taken our guns, what is the guarantee that this and that community will not attack us, they will not raid our cows, he said.

"These are important questions which I could not answer," he said adding "We will do the best to provide protection to all who have given us weapons. Their lives and properties will be protected. This has been assurance and I take this message to the command,” he said.

He attributed the reasons for which the country is awash with all types of weapons to the war of liberation struggle for independence of the country and the current war over leadership.

(ST)