SPLA-IO forces exit Tombura

SPLA-IO forces exit Tombura
Some Internally Displaced Persons who fled the Tombura violence shelter in Ezo County (photo credit: courtesy)

The Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) forces have evacuated the volatile Tombura Country of Western Equatoria, the state authorities have confirmed.

The State Minister of Information and Spokesperson William Baiki told The City Review on Monday that the SPLA-IO forces arrived at the Rangu cantonment site about 24 kilometers north of Yambio Town on Saturday, ready to proceed to Maridi Training Centre.

“SPLA-IO left Tombura the day before yesterday [on Saturday) in compliance with the resolution from the office of the First Vice President to assemble all the forces of Gen. James Nando from Zamoi and the ones of the SPLA-IO from Namatina,” he revealed.

Baiki said all the opposition forces have already been moved adding that there were no more left SPLA-IO forces in the county and surrounding areas; including in Nagero County, 62 Miles on Tombura-Wau road.

 “We do not have SPLA-IO forces again in Tombura County either in Nagero Country, all of them have been evacuated to Rangu,” he added.

Tombura County descended into violent ethnic conflicts in June, resulting in the displacement of more than 80, 000 people who were left in dire need of humanitarian assistance. The majority of them are women, children, and elderly people.

Triggers unknown

The exact causes of the violence remain unclear. However, politicians from the county have been trading blames on the sponsors of the ongoing violence.

A recent report by the UN Human Rights Commission also claims that the conflict in Tombura was facilitated by armed political groups in the country, including those in the government.

In July this year, a meeting between the First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar with the political and military leaders from Western Equatoria State resolved to relocate the SPLA-IO forces in Namatina and Zamoi to Rii-Rangu.

A plan to return the area to normalcy was hatched early this month, with a committee composed of the Joint Defense Board (JDB) being sent to the area to diffuse tension between the rival armed youth.

The team was also tasked with exploring ways of relocating forces of Gen. James Nando and those of the SPLA-IO in Namatina Payam, northwest of Tombura County.

The peace monitoring body comprising the CTSAMVM, RJMEC, and the United Nations (UN) were also in the area early last month in a bid to restore peace and hope among the affected community.

The peace monitoring body expressed concern over the Tombura conflict saying it would jeopardize the ongoing peace implementation process if left unchecked.

“Regarding the permanent ceasefire, CTSAMVM has identified no verified clashes between the party signatories to the R-ARCSS. However, as discussed at the last board meeting, the level of violence in the Tombura area and its potently detrimental impact in the peace process remains a very serious concern,” he said.

“CTSAMVM calls on IGAD and RJMEC to urge the parties to the agreement to ensure their forces do not get involved, and that all stakeholders work for a peaceful resolution,” said Maj. Gen. Gemechu.