The Sudan People Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) forces in Western Equatoria’s Namatina Payam of Nagero County over the weekend denied causing insecurity and unrest in Tambura County.
On Sunday, a team of officials from the state government lead by the minister of local government and law enforcement and including the state ministers of peace, information, and communication, SSPDF, the SPLA-IO Division Commander, National Security, and UN agencies went to Namatina to assess the security situation in the area and verify claims that SPLA-IO forces in Namatina Payam were causing insecurity in Tambura.
While answering the queries of the fact-finding delegation, the SPLA-IO commander in Namatina, Col. William John Karaban, said his forces never travel to Tambura and that any soldiers leaving the Namatina area always carry a departure order.
“There is no reason for us to fight among ourselves as the counties of Tambura and Nagero. If there are criminals who are doing this, they are on their own. We used to fight with the SSPDF but now we have signed peace. We are not thieves or criminals. If we were, we would not wear these uniforms,” Col. Karaban said.
He added: “The people who are accusing the youth or soldiers (SPLA-IO) from Namatina are liars. Even if there is another war it will find me here. I will not leave this place to go to another place. If we were bad, why are IDPs running from Tambura to seek refuge and protection from me here? Unless the peace has collapsed, we will not fight. I cannot fight with civilians.”
Tertizio Ungele Zirari, the Payam chief of Namatina, said the conflict in Tambura County should not be blamed on the SPLA-IO or the Balanda tribe but politicians jostling for power.
“Nobody should blame the conflict in Tambura on IO or Balanda but rather it is a conflict of interest on the governorship. There are people from Zande who think that the governorship of Western Equatoria State belongs to them and not to other tribes,” Chief Ungele charged. “The reason for the conflict in Tambura is just because Governor Futuyo is from Balanda. They want to tarnish the image of the governor so that he can be removed and they put their person.”
Elia Richard Box, the state local government minister, urged the citizens of Namatina to be calm and be part of the solution to the conflict in Tambura County.
“I remember when we fled to Mboki (Central African Republic), some of you here in Namatina were there together with us, Blanda and all the other tribes,” Minister Box said. “There, there were no differences between Zande and Balanda, Moru or Avokayer. Therefore, the issues of Tambura, I want to say we all have to stand and pray to God so that the problem there comes to an end.”