South Sudan armed opposition says no civilians targeting policy

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October 11, 2016 (JUBA) - A senior member in the leadership of the armed
opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) led
by the former First Vice President, Riek Machar, has issued a statement
distancing itself from roadside attacks in Equatoria region, saying it has
no policy targeting innocent civilians.

Mabior John Garang de Mabior (File photo MC Clatchy Newspapers)

Mabior Garang de Mabior, chairman of the national committee for information
and public relations in the SPLM-IO, issued a statement distancing the
movement and said it “condemns in the strongest terms the killing of
innocent civilians on the highways of South Sudan.”

“The SPLM (IO) has no policy of killing civilians. This alarming situation
should be investigated and the criminals held accountable,” Mabior said.

Mabior was reacting to reports of roadside ambush attacks on Juba –Yei road
in which up to 21 civilians traveling in commercial vehicles fell into
ambush attack by gunmen over the weekend.

The incident, which targeted members of the Dinka ethnic group of President
Salva Kiir, took place on Saturday morning in Ganyi, an area between Lainya
and Juba. The vehicles were carrying more than 200 civilians, mostly women
and children.

The identity of the group was not immediately identified and no group had
come out to claim the responsibility. The attack attracted mixed reactions
from stakeholders and actors.Government officials and military officers
condemned the attack and blamed dissident armed youth in the area suspected
to be loyal to politicians allied to the former first vice president, Riek
Machar, for carrying out the attack.

They also called for regional support to designate the unidentified group
as “terrorists” and to deny their leader safe haven in the countries in the
region.United Nations had earlier called on all parties in the conflict to
refrain from further violence and ensure that their respective army
commanders control their forces and protect civilians and their property
and to cease all hostilities.

Leading civil society leaders in Juba warned that the Yei-Juba road ambush
could worsen the security situation in the country. Others attributed the
renewed civil war to lack of progress in the implementation of the peace
agreement signed in August last year between President Kiir and his former
deputy, Machar.

“The implementation of the peace agreement is very slow especially key
provisions that talk about reforms, and the issue of unified army, and also
the dialogue with armed groups that are still in the bushes whether under
[the] command of Riek Machar or those who are unknown in Equatoria, so the
dialogue with them is very weak,” observed civil society leaders.

The violence erupted again on 8 July when rival forces clashed at the
Republican Palace, plunging back the country into another civil war.


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