By Deng Machol
Juba – the body tasked with a monitoring peace deal in South Sudan has called on the South Sudan People Defense Forces (SSPDF) and other army forces to immediately vacate occupied civilian centres across the country.
Speaking during the opening of the 7th Monthly Plenary’s meeting, the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) Interim Chairperson H.E. Ambassador Lt. Gen. Augostino Njoroge gave an update on the status of implementation of the signed nine months revitalized peace deal.
South Sudan has descended into another conflict, just two years of gained her independence from Sudan after decades of scorched – earth conflict, following the political disagreement between Salva Kiir and his former deputy Dr. Riek Machar.
Through the regional bloc, IGAD’s efforts, the two principals reached a peace deal in 2015 but has been violated within months in 2016, following renewal fighting in Juba, forced Dr. Machar to an exile again.
But in September, 2018, president Kiir and key opposition groups, including main opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar again reached a fragile ceasefire and peace deal, promising to ended the civil war that has claimed nearly 400, 000 lives and uprooted 4 million people from their homes.
However, the plans to form a new government in May, returned Dr. Machar as the president Kiir’s deputy were delayed after there was no funding to disarm, retrain and integrate militias and rebels, until November, 2019.
Despite the peace deal, Gen. Njoroge says the military are still occupied the civilian centres across the country.
“Regarding the occupation of the civilian centres by the military, I wrote to the Chairman of the Joint Defense Board (JDB) requesting him to issue instructions to respective commanders for their troops to vacate all occupied civilian centres,” says Njoroge in Juba on Tuesday.
However, in draft seen by the Pan African Visions, 54 buildings remain occupied by the army forces across, which contrary to international laws and principles as well as SSPDF General order of 14 August 2013 and R – ARCSS articles 18.104.22.168. This areas, including Torit, Yei, Malakal, Juba, Wau and Yambio and among others.
Those buildings or schools are mostly occupied by the government forces.
The SSPDF, spokesperson, Major Gen. Lul Ruai has confirmed it, saying the SSPDF is on process to vacate the civilian premises as the security is relative calm.
“There are other centres remain occupied by the army, however, we have made a positive development by vacated 17 centres and we have cleared timetable on some of the building that are still occupied,” Lul told this news agency.
The army spokesperson further unveiled that the army leaderships would complete the vacation of all forces within this month.
Lul decried that the vacation exercise is encountering imminent challenges such as lack of shelters to move a forces to.
“Well, of course in every exercise, there are some challenges, you know, this is a rainy season, some of the building that are being occupied, are being using as a shelters. Of course, when we vacate – we shall have a problem of where we will take this forces but of course, we can comply with what require of us,” says Lul.
Both the peace monitor and the army has confirmed that the permanent ceasefire is effective in the country.
“On the security situation, I am pleased to note that the permanent ceasefire continues to hold across the country, while attention is turned to cantonment and the training of the Necessary Unified Forces,” says Njoroge.
The JMEC chairperson urged the security Mechanisms to open cantonment sites and ensure that forces report to the designated sites or barracks, as stipulated in the R-ARCSS.
“Unfortunately, there is still violence and an unacceptable number of deaths linked to cattle rustling. This requires the urgent attention of the government,” Njoroge continued said
Despite an apparent reduction in reported cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in the country, it remains a concern, the Interim Chairperson noted.
“I urge the Parties to the Agreement to takes steps to eradicate SGBV in their areas of responsibility, to ensure protection and safety of women and girls in areas under their control, and to continue accountability measures for those found culpable of SGBV violations,” said Amb. Njoroge.
Lt. Gen. Njoroge concluded that he is encouraged by the “ongoing discussion about the establishment of an SGBV court by the Judiciary, and the adoption by the South Sudan Peoples Defence Forces of an Action Plan to eradicate SGBV by the military.”