JUBA – South Sudan peace monitors have concluded in a preliminary report that commissioners of Mayendit and Koch County who are allied to President Salva Kiir Mayardit’s South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) are to blame for the deadly violence that rocked Leer County and parts of Koch County last month.
Deadly attacks by gunmen allegedly acting on orders of the commissioners of Koch, Koang Biel, and his Mayendit counterpart, Gatluak Nyang, sparked condemnation among the civil population in South Sudan with government being told to investigate and bring into book those behind the clash.
In a preliminary report, the Ceasefire & Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring and Verification & Mechanism (CTSMAVM) said they have concluded that the two commissioners of Koch and Mayendit are behind the actions that instigated violence in the southern part of Unity state’s Leer.
“It is the conclusion of CTSAMVM that clashes in Koch and Leer Counties did take place between forces/armed youth under Command of Koch and Mayendit County Commissioners together with elements of defected soldiers SSPDF aligned Kit Gwang faction against the SPLM/A-IO forces,” the CTSAMVM said in a statement.
“These clashes were instigated by the government County commissioners and for this reason the government must bear responsibility for violations of the R-ARCSS and ACOH,” the peace monitoring body added, pointing out that “Mir Mir Cantonment Site (CS) is a designated SPLM/A-IO CS and Mir Mir Payam was SPLM/A-IO controlled area since the September 2018 when the Peace Agreement was signed.”
“The Koch County Commissioner, Hon Gordon Koang Biel who belongs to ITGONU, was reportedly not welcomed in Mir Mir which is one of his County Payams and as such there was constant disagreement between him and the SPLM/A-IO Mir Mir CS Commander, Maj Gen Gorge Gatbany.
“Around August 2021 there were reports of some internal conflicts within Mir Mir CS where some soldiers were alleged to have killed a woman and a man who were in detention at the CS cells. The soldiers alleged to have been involved in the killing were led by Lt. Gatkhor Chuol and Lt. Kulang Mathiang. They fled and allegedly named themselves the “SSPDF aligned Kit Gwang faction of Mir Mir” and went to hide around Koch town.
“There was fighting mainly between Koch armed youth against SPLM/A-10 forces in Mir Mir but later spread to Leer County. It was further alleged that the Koch County Commissioner (ITGONU) allegedly took advantage of the situation and overran the CS on 11th Feb 22.
“SPLM/A-IO defectors who initially fought the Cantonment Site were led by Lt Gatkhor Chuol who declared himself commander of SSPDF aligned Kit Gwang faction of Mir Mir and as such elevated his rank to a Major General after reportedly defeating the SPLM/A-IO forces in the CS.
“The SPLM/A-IO forces were dislodged on 11 February 2022 from the Cantonment Site positions in Mir Mir by forces/armed youth under Command of Koch County Commissioner and elements of defected soldiers, the SSPDF aligned Kit Gwang Faction. There is evidence that various violations ranging from rape, physical torture of civilians and killing by burning of people and properties were committed.”