JUBA – The South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) forces in Tambura County of Western Equatoria State have yet to be relocated weeks after the Joint Defense Board (JDB) ordered their evacuation, a move expected to restore security to the troubled area, Radio Tamazuj reports.
Tambura County has for the past few months witnessed violent clashes involving SSPDF forces loyal to Gen. James Nando and the SPLA-IO soldiers, leaving several people dead and thousands displaced.
Last month, the body overseeing the implementation of the security arrangements under the 2018 peace deal, JDB, resolved that all the rival forces be evacuated from Tambura to training centers.
But speaking to Radio Tamazuj Wednesday, Mathew Mabenge, Tambura County commissioner, said the evacuation process remains stalled due to transportation challenges.
“Reference to the resolution of the JDB, the forces of Nando were supposed to leave Tambura and also the forces of IO (SPLA-IO) to leave Tambura. The forces of Nando are very huge and are assembled in one place waiting for trucks,” he said.
The local official called on the relevant government agencies to expedite the evacuation process.
“From the IO side, the two trucks which were arranged for the IO only took nine people. I don’t know the logic behind that. There is nothing in my hands, I could have hired trucks to collect them to the training camp in Maridi. So, I am still contacting the authorities concerned,” he said.
However, SSPDF spokesperson Lul Ruai Koang said arrangements are ongoing to vacate the forces to Maridi.
“You know mobilizing resources is a process that can take some time. It is difficult to put a time frame in the process but of course, it is our priority. They will be transported as soon as enough resources are mobilized,” he said.
For his part, Lam Paul Gabriel, the SPLA-IO military spokesperson, said: “Indeed, Tambura should have been evacuated by all forces by now such that only police and civilians are left there. But logistical challenges like transportation, food, and shelter at the new destination is delaying the evacuation.”
Asked about the commissioner’s claim that SPLA-IO forces refused to vacate, Lam said: “At the level of JDB, no trucks are provided to transport our forces. If there is anything like that maybe it is a local arrangement there.”
Meanwhile, attempts to reach out to Tut Gatluak, the presidential security advisor and chairperson of the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC), were futile.