SSPDF and SPLA-IO to jointly contain insecurity in Eastern Equatoria
The Eastern Equatoria State council of ministers, during their third security meeting on Monday, resolved that the SSPDF and SPLA-IO forces will work together to combat spiking insecurity in the state.
This resolution was made during an extraordinary security meeting to introduce the SPLM-IO nominated deputy governor, Mary Lodira, who arrived in Torit over the weekend, a month since she was appointed.
Patrick Oting Cyprian, the minister of information and government spokesperson, told Radio Tamazuj, “It was a very good meeting for us to know one another. How the SPLA-IO soldiers can work along with the SSPDF, was the proposal from the minister of peacebuilding who is from SPLM/A-IO. He proposed that the government is welcome all the times and in case of anything they can get the soldiers from the SPLA-IO to escort the governor on official missions.”
He added, “With the coming of the deputy governor, plus the IO soldiers who are around, as they will be joining the forces together they will be moving around and even tackling this issue of insecurity. These minor cases happening on our highways and cattle rustling in villages is not good. Both parties are ready to tackle them in case it happens in the future.”
Minister Oting also said the State Security Council resolved that soldiers will not be allowed to move around with guns in town except on official duty.
“This is meant for all, not only the IO but also the SSPDF soldiers because they will have joint forces. So in case they are passing and going that is understood, but in case they are entering into Torit they have to put their guns in the barracks,” he added.
Meanwhile, Oryema Emmanuel, the Executive Director for Eastern Vision on Rehabilitation and Development agency (EVRDA), a civil society organization in Eastern Equatoria State questioned the basis of the two armies working together before the implementation of the security arrangements.
“I am so much interested to know the basis for agreeing that SSPDF and the IO forces should work together to combat insecurity in the state. There must be a basis. What is the basis? Because you know the basis in our understanding is the implementation of security arrangements under chapter 2 of the peace agreement for all the forces to work together,” Oryema questioned.
The partners in the September 2018 peace agreement are yet to unify and deploy armed forces. The unity government says it is financially constrained to complete the implementation of the security arrangements that include training and unification of both government and opposition soldiers.
The formation of a unified army in South Sudan is a cornerstone of the peace agreement.