South Sudan peace advocate condemns Leer fighting

JUBA – The Center for Peace and Advocacy (CPA), a local peace advocating civil society organization, has vehemently condemned this week’s fighting in Leer County of Unity State in which hundreds of civilians were displaced.

On Tuesday, fierce fighting erupted at an opposition military base at Kaigai village after the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) and local militias launched surprise attack killing one soldier.

The fighting spread to Leer town during the afternoon hours resulting in the killing of one SSPDF commander who lost his live during a sustained battle at a local school.

The CPA in a statement signed by its Executive Director Ter Manyang Gatwech expressed a strong disapproval of the renewed hostilities, urging both the SPLA-IO and SSPDF to adhere to international human rights principles, particularly regarding rules of engagement.

“As South Sudan prepares for its general election in December 2024, the government must hold those individuals responsible for instigating conflict accountable, as we strive to transform South Sudan from a war-torn nation into a peaceful democracy,” he said.

“This violence contravenes Chapter Two, Article 2.1, 10.4 of the R-ARCSS, which prohibits offensive, provocative, or retaliatory actions such as the dissemination of hostile propaganda, recruitment mobilization, redeployment, and movement of forces, except for administrative and logistical purposes, as authorized under the COHA of 21 December 2017 and reported to the CTSAMVM,” he added.

The CPA’s condemnation stems from the confirmation of the attack by Maj. Gen. Gatgok Khor Riaka, commander of SPLA-IO’s Division 4B.

General Gatgok had told Sudans Post that a joint force of SSPDF assisted by armed youth from Leer, Mayendit and Koch County attacked its base at Kaigai village, 10 Kilometers from Leer town, killing at least one soldier.

SPLA-IO spokesperson Lam Paul Gabriel also corroborated the attack, confirming the involvement of General Maguek Gai’s who had defected from the main armed opposition group to the SSPDF in early October.

In response to the escalating conflict, the SPLA-IO’s sector two command spokesperson Major Kerbino Yai Pazale urged immediate intervention to halt the violence, emphasizing the threat it poses to the ongoing peace process.

“We call upon all South Sudanese and leaders of Unity State to intervene and stop this needless morning skirmish that erupted in Leer County. It’s our collective responsibility to end this senseless war,” Major Kerbino stated.

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