RJMEC cautions leaders over ‘defections’ and condemns recent clashes in Yei

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Interim Chair of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) Major General Charles Tai Gituai.

Peace monitors in South Sudan have cautioned leaders against what they call defections and accepting defections saying it dampens the spirit of the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement.

The interim chairman of the international monitoring body Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) Major General Charles Tai Gituai in a statement strongly condemned the recent fighting in Yei, Central Equatoria State purportedly caused by the defection of a general.

Major General Moses Lokujo recently announced his defection from SPLM-IO to the government army SSPDF. A few days after his defection IO forces clashed with Lokujo’s forces and displaced hundreds of people.

“Whether it is referred to as defection or change of allegiance the important point is that the revitalized peace agreement in South Sudan has made commendable progress in the past two years since its signing,” said Tai.

“This must not be allowed to weaken because of instability caused by defections or accepting defections which are contrary to the letter and spirit of the agreement,” he stressed.

Tai urged the parties to resolve all issues through dialogue and called on the Joint Defense Board to investigate the recent clashes and ensure they do not recur.

He added, “Whatever the source or driver of instability, RJMEC reminds all parties that the diplomatic architecture exists to manage all issues peacefully.”

However, the SPLA-IO and SSPDF have traded counter-accusations over the clashes.

SPLA-IO spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel told Radio Tamazuj last week that their forces were attacked at the Morota Unified Training Centre by their former General Lokujo with help from the SSPDF in Kajokeji county.

“I was informed that our forces have repulsed the attackers and they are now in control of the Moroto Unified training Centre and the fighting has stopped.”

According to Lam, Lokujo defected to the government after he was allegedly accused of killing three senior SPLA- IO officers this year and was asked to report to Juba for investigations.

Lam further said the general left with almost 100 soldiers including two colonels to the government.

For his part, Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, the SSPDF spokesperson said their forces have not taken any part in the clashes.

“The fighting that happened in Andijo and Kerwa and Moroto Unified Training Centre, we don’t have any hands in that fighting. It was the SPLA-IO alone who fought,” he said.

Ruai claimed that the SPLA-IO forces attacked Lokujo and his forces after they defected and were moving to the cantonment.

According to Ruai, Lukujo joined the government forces with more than 1,600 soldiers.

But RJMEC, further condemned the clashes in one of the 18 functioning army training centers in the country saying it is inexcusable.

“Each training center is a symbol of the unity which is being forged through creating a unified national army, and any threat to this is reprehensible,” he stated.

The head of RJMEC said urged for the hasty implementation of the peace deal which he says has been lagging.

“RJMEC condemns any action by any party which detracts from the important work of peacebuilding in the country, and joins all other voices in urging constructive dialogue,” said Tai.

The head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan David Shearer last week also expressed concern over the delayed implementation of the security sector reforms within the South Sudan peace agreement saying it could delay key aspects of the deal including elections.

According to the September 2018 peace deal, government and opposition forces are expected to form a unified national army.

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