Home | News    Wednesday 18 January 2012

Unity State: Mayom County told to disarm or face military force

By Bonifacio Taban Kuich

January 16, 2012 (BENTIU) - Forces from South Sudan’s army, Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), have begun a disarmament campaign in Unity state’s volatile Mayom County where rebels have been fighting the government.

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’Seemingly new Chinese Type-54 heavy machine gun (copy of the DShK), seized in Jonglei state. The SPLA claimed to have seized several of these, but had redistributed all but one to its own forces.’ (Small Arms Survey)

The South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) began it’s rebellion early last year vowing to overthrow the Juba government because of its corruption, tribalism and nepotism.

On Monday Mayom’s Commissioner, Martin Machot Deng, warned citizens through state radio Bentiu FM 99 to handover their illegal arms to the SPLA. If weapons are not handed over peacefully, force would be applied in the areas affected by the rebels.

South Sudan is still awash with small arms following decades of civil war with north Sudan, which ended in the 2005 peace deal.

In July last year South Sudan gained independence but continued to accuse Khartoum of arming rebel groups in its territory.

He said that citizens should disarm to allow peace to return to the area so that development projects could take place. Last year the SSLA attacked Mayom town and has threatened to attack Bentui, the state capital.

The rebel group have also been accused of laying land mines in the area making it difficult for agencies to provide humanitarian assistance and restricting movement.

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’Chinese-produced Type-80 machine gun (copy of the PKM), seized in Jonglei state. Identical machine guns were seized from Peter Gadet’s forces during the same period in Unity state.’ (Small Arms Survey)

Salva Kiir, South Sudan’s President has offered an amnesty to all of the new country’s rebels. The commissioner urged those with arms in the state to handover their guns.

Commissioner Deng warned citizens not to blame the government for the consequences if they did not disarm. He said that the SPLA had tried to use traditional networks of local chiefs but if that did not work the army would use force.

Unity State advisor for security, Michael Chieng Jiek Geay, and Mayom MPs have joined the commissioner in spreading awareness of the campaign in their constituencies.

"It is important to live without guns and your security will be handle by the government rather than using illegal arms to attack your neighborhood", said the state advisor.

South Sudan’s military say they have deployed three divisions around the borders of Mayom County to monitor the movement of those who may resist the exercise.