South Sudan’s main rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in Opposition (SPLA-IO) on Tuesday denied recruitment of fighters from neighboring Uganda.
Lam Paul Gabriel, deputy military spokesman of the rebel group led by former First Vice President Riek Machar dismissed recent reports in the Ugandan media alleging that they were luring youth in northern Uganda with promises of cash to join the rebel movement.
“The resident district commissioner of Lamwo James Kidega has once again attacked the SPLA-IO through The Observer online media outlet on Sept. 1. He alleged that SPLA-IO is recruiting Ugandan youth into its ranks and files with promise of decent remuneration. This is a white lie aimed at tarnishing the image of the SPLA-IO,” said Gabriel in a statement issued in Juba.
SPLA-IO has been accused of integrating Ugandan officers in its ranks who have so far recruited 30 youth from the northern district of Gulu near the Lamwo-South Sudan border in the Eastern Equatoria region.
The rebel spokesman disclosed that the SPLA-IO does not recruit or operate abroad.
He also added that SPLA-IO is already participating in implementing the transitional security arrangements with the government in Juba and its forces are all in cantonment sites awaiting registration and screening.
South Sudan last week announced the start of the process of screening and registration of forces from opposition groups.
The warring parties are left with only three months of the six-months extended pre-transitional period they earlier agreed upon to conclude issues like cantonment of forces, demarcation of tribal boundaries and determining the number of states.
South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013, pitting forces loyal to Riek Machar against troops loyal to President Kiir, leading to the death of tens of thousands and the displacement of millions of others internally and externally.
A peace deal signed in August 2015 collapsed following renewed violence in the capital, Juba, in July 2016.
Under the September 2018 peace agreement, opposition leader Riek Machar, together with four others, will be reinstated as vice president of South Sudan. Enditem