Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) under First Vice President Riek Machar have withdrawn from the restive Tombura area of Western Equatoria state where fighting since July displaced nearly 80,000 civilians.
William Adriano Baikai, Western Equatoria state minister of information, said Machar’s troops, who have been fighting with the local community supported by South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF), withdrew from the area on Tuesday.
The violence has killed over 200 people since the outbreak of the conflict this year.
“The (SPLA-IO) forces have vacated Tombura town two days after the Joint Defense Board ordered their evacuation,” Adriano told Xinhua by phone from Tombura.
He, however, noted that forces led by SPLA-IO officer James Nando have refused to evacuate from Tombura.
A meeting between First Vice President Machar and political and military leaders from Western Equatoria state agreed in July to relocate the SPLA-IO forces in Namatina and Zamoi to Rii-Rangu area.
In addition, they also agreed to relocate forces loyal to Nando from Yambio Airstrip and Source-Yubo to Maridi.
Adriano said that forces loyal to Nando are defying a government order to vacate a military camp outside Tombura.
“As I am talking, the forces of the SPLA-IO in Namatina left two days ago and the only forces that remain in Tombura belong to Nando,” he said.
He said the SSPDF has dispatched a team to Tombura to relocate Nando’s forces from the area.
“The deputy division commander of the SSPDF in Maridi arrived in Yambio on Monday night and they will be proceeding to Tombura today (Tuesday) to relocate forces belonging to Nando to Maridi,” he said.
South Sudanese warring parties are yet to conclude the implementation of a 2018 revitalized peace deal that includes the graduation of 83,000 unified forces to take charge of security during the ongoing transitional period. Enditem