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South Sudanese army leaves in Juba limited force over security vacuum

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March 1, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudanese government on Tuesday said it has left behind a limited force in the national capital, Juba, allegedly to provide security for the capital until when a joint force with opposition faction is deployed.

South Sudanese soldiers sit on a truck at the airport in Juba on 12 June 2014 (Photo: AFP/Samir Bol)

In accordance with the August 2015 peace agreement signed between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, leader of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), government forces should withdraw from Juba to 25kms away. A joint police and military force of more than eight thousand would be deployed in the capital to provide security.

However, units of forces from the SPLM-IO have not yet arrived in Juba, forcing the government not to withdraw all its forces from the capital, according to Michael Makuei Lueth, minister of information.

“The government is fully committed to demilitarizing Juba in accordance with the security arrangement. This process has already started with redeployment of the forces, including some forces from presidential guards force division,” Lueth told reporters in Juba on Tuesday.

“The redeployment process would have been completed long time ago if the SPLM-IO forces had come and become part of the joint force; but the coming of SPLM-IO forces is slow,” he added.

Lueth further explained that due to the delay in arrival of the SPLM-IO forces to Juba, it was necessary to leave behind an unspecified number of troops in the capital.

He asserted that “Security in Juba is paramount not only to a political agreement, but also to ensuring that there is no repeat of the fighting in the capital” that sparked the conflict which consumed the country for more than two years.

He also attributed the delay for the coming of the opposition forces to logistical and political obstacles, raising fears it could possibly lead to the delay of the planned return of the opposition leader, Machar.

Observers say the return to Juba of troops from the SPLM-IO is a key step in the implementation of the peace agreement, particularly the formation of a transitional government of national unity.

The government and SPLM-IO reached an agreement that the armed opposition faction would send to Juba 1,370 armed military personnel in preparation for the return to Juba of Machar, while the rest of over 1,500 would come later by river. But it is unlikely the troops will beat the 1 March deadline.

Government officials and diplomats close to the implementation process say they are waiting for key information from the opposition faction for them to assemble their forces.

Armed opposition officials say neither the government nor the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) has availed shelter, food, water and health care for the soon to arrive forces, causing the delay in their arrival.

(ST)

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  • 2 March 2016 02:05, by Mr Point

    Can someone explain this "security vacuum" to me. What is a security vacuum?

    It is documented in the African Union report etc that the 2013 massacre of civilians was carried out by government forces.
    It is often reported in Sudan Tribune that theft and murder are carried out in the night time by government soldiers.

    Would the capital be safer if there were NO government forces in Juba?

    repondre message

    • 2 March 2016 04:34, by Hardball

      Mr. Pointless;

      Stop the narrow-mindedness; the exchange of firefight that happened on the night of December 15, 2013; was it the civilians who were heavily armed and fighting the government troops?

      If you’re a reasonable person; you’re not going to tell me that the civilians were heavily armed that night and try to overthrow the government.

      repondre message

      • 2 March 2016 04:39, by Hardball

        >>>>

        Tell me a single civilian camp in South Sudan that’s under rebel control? If government troops were killing civilians; then why were they being sent from Upper Nile region to Juba for protection?

        You can’t be that highly irrational to think that the government is out there to kill civilians and at the same time civilians are being sent to Juba because it’s the safest place for them!

        repondre message

    • 2 March 2016 04:37, by Dinka-Defender-General

      Mr. Pointless, have a lot to learn if you don’t know ’security vacuum.’ It means we cannot empty Juba for criminals such as Machar. By the way, I am not going anywhere with my 2,500 plus soldiers in Juba. I am not in your bullshit accord. No one can force me out here because we are here to protect heroes bone. Also I am not going to move because of nyagats bullshit. Follow my rules. DDG

      repondre message

      • 2 March 2016 09:17, by Eastern

        You will be rudely uprooted with along with your heroes bones from Juba when the time comes. You will be shocked......

        repondre message

        • 2 March 2016 17:41, by Hardball

          Ooh please Eastern; get out of here with you empty tough talk; if you had the balls to do anything; you would have done it years ago. You’re just using Rabbits ears as horn which isn’t going to scar anyone.

          repondre message

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