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GOV'T FORCES HAVE DEPLOYED 300 SOLDIERS WITH HEAVY MILITARY WEAPONRY AT ASWA, NIMULE-JUBA ROAD

Nimule, 28 April 2019; About two and half months since the soldiers from Pageri brigade of SPLA-IO have moved into their cantonment site, at least two kilometers away from the Aswa bridge, Loa Payam, pageri County, in compliance with the implementation of the security arrangements of the revitalized agreement on the Resolution of the conflicts in South Sudan, the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces have in the last three days moved two lorries and six pickup Toyota cars, carrying altogether around 300 well-armed soldiers at Aswa, along Nimule-Juba road, to increase the number of the soldiers who have kept their positions near Aswa bridge, an act  which goes against the terms of the security arrangements of the peace agreement, which requires all soldiers to move to the cantonment sites. 

This provocative posture from SSPDF comes at the time when the government soldiers in Pageri county are supposed to move to their cantonment site at Nimule. During the confidence and trust building exercises held in Pageri and Nimule respectively, the commander of SPLA-IO Pageri brigade brigadier Charles Rumunu appealed to his counterpart, the commander of Tiger Battalion stationed in Nyongwa, Pageri county, to move his soldiers to their cantonment area, to allow civilians to return to their homes. 

A senior officer at SPLA-IO who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity acknowledged the ongoing deployment of SSPDF in the area. He said the current deployment of SSPDF soldiers at Aswa is a step backward from the implementation of the peace agreement.  The current posture of SSPDF puts into jeopardy the positive outcomes of the confidence and trust building processes, and this posture presents a security risk for them and so they are assessing the level the risk, and consequently adjusting their tactical measures to respond to the risk proportionately and decisively should the government soldier advance with their aggression. 

The officer however, said they are committed to peace agreement, therefore, they will only act in self-defense, he further appealed to CTSAM, JMEC, IGAD and the other actors involved in guaranteeing the implementation of the peace process to take serious action to address such provocative actions from SSPDF to avoid eventual physically confrontations between SPLA-IO and SSPDF soldiers at Aswa area. 

Andrew Olweny 

SSLN

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