The army spokesperson has rejected the Bari Community’s call for withdrawal of SSPDF soldiers from Mangala over the alleged insecurity they are causing in the area.
The forces were recently deployed to Mangala to flush out the National Salvation Front (NAS) forces that are operating in the area.
But in December 2022, the Bari community called for withdrawal of the SSPDF forces, saying they were causing more harm to the civilians as they restricted their movements.
The community leaders stated that the army had labeled them as NAS rebels fighting its forces in the area – a claim they rubbished.
Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai said the army leadership did not label the community as NAS rebels, but the forces were and are dealing with the rebels present in the area.
He announced that the forces will not be withdrawn from the area based on community demand.
“When and where to deploy forces is purely the business and prerogative of Chief of Defense Forces and relevant levels of command based on prevailing security threat. It is not the business of community chairman to give directives or orders,” Lul told reporters.
While refuting the allegations of insecurity caused by the forces, he promised justice will be rendered where the soldiers breached the orders at individual capacity.
“If there are cases of insecurity being posed by forces deployed on both sides of the river, then they must have been individual cases and there is a remedy whenever you misbehave as an individual soldier deployed at any given area,” Lul continued.
One of the accusations made against the national army by the Bari community include their move being politically motivated to side with Dinka Bor cattle herders.
“We in the SSPDF do not favor any of our communities anywhere in the Republic of South Sudan. You know there are communal clashes here in Central Equatoria between armed Bari youth and cattle herders from Bor. We do not favor.” Lul said
The army spokesperson went on to call for a joint facts finding and verification mission to the area with the Bari Community leaders.