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JUBA - 7 Jan 2013

Aweil community in Juba fundraising for SPLA in ‘Mile 14’

The Aweil community in Juba on Saturday conducted a fundraising event at Nyakuron Cultural Center for South Sudanese army troops garrisoned in the disputed border area known as ‘Mile 14.’

Participants represent a key interest group opposed to Article 3 of the Agreement on Security Arrangements signed 27 September, which requires “complete demilitarisation of the ’14 mile’ area, maintaining the status quo of the joint tribal mechanisms for the resolution of disputes.”

The gathering of hundreds of citizens contributed 190,008 South Sudanese pounds for SPLA soldiers on the border, particularly Division Three.

Among those who attended are senior government officials including national minister of trade and commerce Garang Diing Akuong, deputy defends minister Majak de Agoot national members of parliament representing NBGs counties, chairperson of the employee justice, former governor of greater Bahr-el-Ghazal general Kawach Makuei.

The fundraising event was organized by the so-called "Mile 14 committee" which was formed by Northern Bahr al-Ghazal citizens a few weeks after the signing of the agreement in late September in Addis Ababa.

Among those who contributed generously were the businessman Bol Bol who alone gave 100,000 SSP.

Speaking on the event, national trade and commerce minister Garang Diing Akuong said SPLA already had something to eat and that the purpose of fundraising was to raise army morale. "What we are doing is complementing the efforts of the government," said Akuong referring to the contributions being made by the citizens.

The deputy defense minister Majak de Agoot appreciated the Mile 14 committee for their initiative, noting that the event was assisting his ministry.

Dr. Dhieu Mathok, chairman of the employees’ justice chamber, said the Mile 14 issue could be resolved through support for the army together with continuing with negotiation with Khartoum, continuing grassroots peace conferences and by rendering development in the area.

Aldo Ajou, a member of the council of states, emphasized they are standing with the government, not against it. “We are standing with our government and army".

However, he warned the committee not to politicize the issue of Mile 14 and use it as a ladder to climb up for jobs.

"Don't politicize the Mile 14 case," he said.