By Hassan Arun Cosmas
Citizens in Yei-River County discussed civil-military relations to strengthening the relationship between citizens and the army in Mugwo Payam at Yei County of Central Equatoria State.
The two-day workshop was organized by Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI) in collaboration with Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC), United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), County Commissioner and other peace partners aimed at strengthening civil-military relations in the area.
The Director of Civil-Military relations in Yei River County,Michael Machar said that the relationship between the military and civilians was improving.
“We hope that in this coming Christmas up to next year security, will be guaranteed, and we urge the civil population to cooperate with the military. And I also call on the army to do the same. There is no need to arrest and intimidate civilians without any reason. Military leadership assures general public that they relationship between the military and civilian is improving, the life is now going on well in spite of the fact that some individuals in the military still going to public places with guns that threatens the civilian life and some military personnel appear in public with guns,” Machar said.
The dialogue has discussed issues of arbitrary arrests and detention, sexual harassment, looting and road robbery and labeling civilians, especially youth as rebels which shrinking civic space and soaring relationship between the army and the civilians.
The dialogue has resolved to establish councils at Payam and Boma levels comprising of the army commander, Payam Director, Chief and other local leaders to meet monthly to discuss security issues and other issues facing the members of the community. Civilians should immediately report cases of torture, looting, rape, murder or harassment to the committee to address them swiftly.
The dialogue has called the three armed groups including South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF), Sudan People Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO), National Salvation Front (NAS) and other holdout groups to denounce violence in Mugwo to enable returnees rebuild their lives and that they should pursue the Rome Peace talks as a peaceful mean to resolve conflicts.
The community members have called for deployment of more police in civilian areas than the army.