SPLA-IO Kitgwang forces yet to vacate Pieri town
The SPLA-IO forces loyal to Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual’s Kitgwang faction have yet to vacate Pieri town, the headquarters of Pieri Payam in Jonglei State’s Uror County, officials said.
Late last month, fear and panic gripped Pieri when Gatwech’s forces stationed at Kuelnyanuer military base abandoned the base and deployed to the town, saying the deployment was necessary to deescalate simmering tensions among the rival clans there.
Speaking to Radio Tamazuj, John Samuel Manyuon, the Jonglei State information minister, said Pieri is calm a week after the SPLA-IO Kitgwang forces deployment.
Minister Samuel, who is also the state government mouthpiece, however, pointed out that weeks into talks to persuade Gatwech’s forces to vacate have yet to be fruitful, but the talks are ongoing.
“There is calm at the moment. There is not much tension. As a state government, we are still engaging them (Kitgwang) to be able to move back to their previous location,” Samuel said.
He added, “Residents are in their homes. What is happening is an administrative issue that’s being claimed by the Kitgwang but they do not need to be part of the administration.”
Biel Dong, the Pieri Payam administrator, said they are peacefully coexisting with the Kitgwang forces, whom he said promised to leave soon.
“As a government official, I am now in Pieri, and there is no problem. We are still engaging Kitgwang forces for them to leave, and they promised that they would when they fix a fault in their military tank,” he said. “Life is normal, and now there is an ongoing food distribution exercise.”
For his part, Gen. Tunyang Gatkal, the commander of the SPLA-IO Kitgwang forces in Pieri, admitted his forces' presence in the town.
“We are still in Pieri. When what we came here for is over, we will retreat. If we are to leave now, who will resolve issues among our locals? We are intervening because we are the authorities on the ground,” he stressed.