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Sudan Tribune

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Army presence worries civil society body in Yei River state

May 23, 2016 (YEI) – A leading civil society entity in South Sudan’s Yei River state has expressed concerns over the increasing presence of soldiers who move with guns among the civil population in Yei town.

South Sudanese SPLA soldiers are pictured in Pageri in Eastern Equatoria state on August 20, 2015 (Photo AFP/Samir Bol)
South Sudanese SPLA soldiers are pictured in Pageri in Eastern Equatoria state on August 20, 2015 (Photo AFP/Samir Bol)
Centre for Democracy and Development raised the matter this week.

Felix Dara, the organisation’s program manager said the presence of the army in town largely explains the rampant cases of insecurity, lootings, harassment, intimidation and even killing of innocent civilians.

Last week, a soldier shot and wounded an international medical doctor in Yei. Sr. Veronica Rackova later died at a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.

“It is very unfortunate to see that our SPLA [Sudan People’s Liberation Army] soldiers who are meant to protect the lives of the people turned the guns on to civilians is very pain full, ” Dara told Sudan Tribune.

He demanded that the army be relocated out of Yei town to enable the authorities track down those criminals intimidating and killing civilians.

“We equally demand that the army except the joint patrol force must be relocated outside the town. They are really causing a security threat to the people of this town. We have a number of cases of people being arrested, intimidated and time has come for all these forces to be out of the town”, stressed Dara.

The officials further urged the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) to speed up allocation of cantonment areas for all the armed forces to enable smooth implementation of the peace accord.

“We equally demand that the security arrangement within the provision of the compromise peace agreement needed to be operationalized especially the issue of cantonment sites and this will enable the authorities to identify who these bandits are,” said Dara.

Meanwhile the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Yei, Erkolano Ladu Tombe urged the government, especially the army commanders, to ensure that soldiers under their command are controlled and guided.

“We need security. Security of lives, not security of things, animals, goats, trees and land. And we are telling the security to arrest those people who go out of hand, otherwise you security will be failing in your service to the people and the nation in securing the lives of the people”, he said.

“To the army commanders”, he added, “Don’t let soldiers just go about robbing and killing people on the road. You our commanders command our soldiers and please control and punish them when they abuse civilians whom they are supposed to keep safe. Our government should keep the nation in peace; don’t let the nation go into pieces [again]”.

The deputy governor of Yei River state, Abraham Wani vowed to ensure that soldiers who undermine the laws are brought to face books of law.

“Yei River County with a team of lawers have started the investigation and these soldiers will face the law accordingly”, he said.