National, News

Peace Monitors close 3 state branches

By Bida Elly David


South Sudan Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) has closed three branches, in states.

The body’s Chairperson, Hailu Gonfa Edossa disclosed closure of the branch offices in a meeting on Tuesday, attributing it to lack of funding.

He said the Monitoring and Verification Teams branches in Torit and Bor are no longer operational while others have been downsized.

“The responsibilities of the closed areas will now be shared between Juba, Malakal, and Bentiu” he stressed.

Appreciating international observers assigned to the closed field locations, Edosa urges them to continue fulfilling their responsibilities as mandated by the agreement.

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our International Observers and National Monitors in the field, and the staff in the headquarters, CTSAMVM continues to fulfill its mandate,” Gonfa added.

However, Maj. Gen. Bior Geek, a representative of the Former Detainees (FD), challenged the closure of the branches, arguing that it goes against the peace agreement.

Emphasizing the crucial importance of monitoring, especially the upcoming elections, Maj. Gen. Geek expresses concern that without proper oversight, citizens will be vulnerable to violations, in areas of the closed branches.

“We are going for elections and if we are going for it there is need for the election to be monitored, one of the keys that will monitor the elections is the CTSAMVM,” he said.

Gen. Bior emphasized that CTSAMVM was established by the peace agreement to monitor violations.

He disputed the claim of lack of funding, noting that national monitors have received funding from Japan.

Ge. Bior argued that expecting the government to fund international and regional monitors is unreasonable.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Chuol Ruey, a representative of the SPLM/A-IO, challenged CTSAMVM’s decision to transfer monitoring activities from the closed centres to Juba.

He questioned the justification for such a move and pointed out that resources had been allocated, which should support the operations of national monitors.

“We need to be mindful that those areas that are closed down have issues that need monitoring; we don’t see any justification as such that they have to be monitored from Juba or elsewhere, CTSAMVM should look into that,” he said.

“If it is the question of resources, it has been allocated which could also push the operations of the national monitors in doing their activities accordingly,” he added.

Both Gen. Bior and Gen. Ruey considered the closure of the monitoring centers as a violation and urged CTSAMVM to reconsider its decision.

Last year, the Ceasefire Monitoring body temporarily halted its operations due to unpaid arrears of 10 months.

Mr. Hailu Gonfa, the chairperson of the body, initially called on the Government of National Unity to clear the arrears for the resumption of operations but it seems the call had not yielded fruits.

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