By Baraka John
The government of Western Equatoria State has expressed dismay over forceful recruitment of youth into armed opposition of Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO).
This came as several community members in Yambio raised concerns over a manner that saw elements of SPLA-IO forcefullyarresting their sons taking them to their military base claiming these were their armed combatants who deserted their barrack and escaped to the town.
Deputy Governor of Western Equatoria State, Dr.Kennedy Gaaniko Baime told Juba Monitor that the State government was disappointed by theaction takenin the state by the opposition members.
“It is a total violation of the security arrangements enshrined in the 2018 signed revitalized peace agreement. Thisact shows that there is lack of political will to implement this agreement, because the document says, after assembling of forces in the barracks, no signatory to the document is allowed to go for fresh recruitment,” he said.
He added that the matter was tabled before security committee and step has been taken to handle the matter. Western Equatoria is relatively gaining peace as Church leaders also have big role to play in restoring peace through dedicating the State in their prayers.
Meanwhile, SPLA-IO spokesperson in Western Equatoria State Maj. Costa Joseph denied the allegation, saying, SPLA-IO faction was only collecting its members who deserted their barrack. Joseph said no civilian has been forcefully arrested by SPLA-IO to join the faction.
“This accusation is false, SPLA-IO cannot recruit people now because we don’t have budget for that, and if we do it, meaning we are violating the peace agreement. Our children suffering no school, no food no shelter, why should we go and recruit people now, where shall we get the money to feed the recruit with?” Costa said.
Two month ago,Joint Defend Board committee visited Western Equatoria State in September this year, recommended relocation of forces loyal to armed opposition to military training center in Maridi County with the aim to stabilize security situation in the State.