National, News

Parliament forms committee to probe Tombura attacks

By Bida Elly David


National Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA) has formed a committee to investigate the recent attacks in Tombura County, Western Equatoria State.

Violence sparked in Tombura County two weeks ago, resulting into abductions, killings, and burning of houses, which forced thousands to flee for safety.

Lawmakers resolved to form the committee after deliberation on a motion moved in the house about the unrest.

The committee is to investigate underlying causes of the violence and find a peaceful solution through dialogue.

The investigative committee will

The nine members committee comprises three of from Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SLPM), two from main opposition (SPLM-IO), and four from other parties.

Clement Juma, mover of the motion, hailing from South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), expressed the distress of civilians being displaced from their homes while the August House is capable of probing the matter.

He described the actors in the conflict as a group of militias against peace of civilians and revitalized peace agreement.

Gai Mayen Luk, a lawmaker representing Lakes State under the SPLM-IO ticket, welcomed the resolution to form a committee but turned furious against the motion mover for using vulgar language against one party to the conflict, terming them militias.

“We are a peace parliament, and as we are sitting here, we are a parliament of parties. This agreement has terms, and one of them is the cessation of hostilities of all forms, including the use of hostile language,” he said.

Stephen Ajongo, an MP from Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State, however, slammed Mr. Gai for having understood the motion wrongly, saying SPLM-IO were not subject to the description as militias.

“What has been raised in this motion is correct; it is not terming SPLM-IO as a militia, but it is saying the militias who have been brought by that party,” Ajongo clarified.

He suggested the need for the defense minister to be summoned before the house to explain the triggers behind the insecurity in Tombura County.

“Let us summon him; he is the one to come with all the information about all that happened in Western Equatoria State, and this is where the parliament will take charge and debate thoroughly,” he submitted.

Meanwhile, Michael Ayuen Johnson, representing Jonglei State through the SSOA ticket, differed with Ajongo over the minister’s summons, saying it is the head of the National Transitional Committee (NTC) and the Joint Defense Board (JDB) to appear before the House to answer the assembly queries.

“The chairperson of the NTC is the one in charge of the cantonment and the security arrangements, and the second is the JDB, not the minister of defense; he only comes in when the forces are already trained,” Ayuen argued.

Gathkouth Wat, a lawmaker representing Jonglei State under SPLM-IO, stood in support of Ajongo’s position, saying the minister of defense is in charge of all the affairs of the defense docket.

“The minister of defense is in charge of answering any question regarding insecurity in South Sudan, and that is why we are starting with him since the whole question will rely on him,” he added.

Gathkouth noted that the SPLM-IO has a legal cantonment area in Western Equatoria State defined by the Joint Defense Board (JDB).

“There is a cantonment site with disorganized soldiers (SPLM-IO) in Western Equatoria State, and they should not be blamed for the insecurity,” he noted.

Parmena Awerial, the second deputy speaker of the national parliament who presided over the sitting, appreciated the lawmakers for their views and urged them to leave all necessary investigations in the hands of the committee.

“The nine members are the ones to go according to the parties we have set; they will come to us, and we will see the arrangement of their departure to Western Equatoria State and report back to the house,” Awerial ruled.

However, he failed to outline the terms of reference and the timeframe that the committee will use to probe the insecurity in Tombura.


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