The IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan says he is “dismayed” over reports of fighting between a splinter group and the SPLA-IO in Yei River area.
On Tuesday, the main opposition army accused Gen. Moses Lokujo of attacking its positions in Kajo-Keji areas of Central Equatoria State.
Last week, Gen. Lokujo, who was a senior military commander in the SPLA-IO, switched sides by pledging alliance to the SSPDF under President Salva Kiir.
According to the SPLA-IO, the general was escaping punishment for an alleged killing of three SPLA-IO officers in May 2020.
But then, it accused Gen. Lokujo of launching an attack on a training centre for unified forces.
“…he [Lokujo] gave an ultimatum to the SPLA-IO forces to vacate the area, that greater Yei doesn’t want SPLA-IO forces there,” said Col. Lam Gabriel, SPLA-IO spokesperson.
“Our forces, after hearing the ultimatum, decided to put up a reconnaissance team to be able to follow up what was taking place, then it led to clashes in a place called Andajo.”
The fighting reportedly took place in Andijo and Kirwa in Kajo-Keji County.
The SSPDF, however, defended Gen. Lokujo, accusing the SPLA-IO of launching the attack on soldiers loyal to him.
“The forces loyal to Lokujo were dislodged from the area, but they reorganized and launched a counter-attack. And as a result, the SPLA-IO forces were dislodged from the area,” Maj.-Gen. Lul Ruai, SSPDF spokesperson, told Eye Radio.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the IGAD Special Envoy said he was alarmed by such reports of conflicts.
“The Special Envoy is further alarmed by reports that the conflict has spilt over to Moroto,” partly reads the statement.
The site is a Training Centre for unified forces of SSPDF, SPLA-IO and SSOA.
Dr. Ismail Wais called on both parties to refrain from fighting and prevent further escalation.
He also demanded that the parties put an end to the sustained culture of defections and desist from recognizing and supporting defectors from Parties to the Agreement with armed forces.
The Envoy stressed that such defections significantly undermine the implementation of the Agreement.
“It has the potential to reignite conflicts in the country if it is allowed to continue unabated,” Dr. Wais argues.
He, however, said he is encouraged by the swift measure taken by the Joint Defense Board in convening an emergency meeting over the matter.
“The Special Envoy commends the swift measure taken by the JDB leadership,” he sats.
The revitalized peace agreement mandates the Joint Defense Board to exercise command and control over all forces during the Pre-Transitional Period.
The body which is made up of senior military leaders plans to summon the officers responsible for the confrontation.
The IGAD Special Envoy wants the ceasefire monitoring body, CTSAMVM to also immediately dispatch a team to investigate and verify the reports.
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