An SPLA commander in Mundri prevented a team of JMEC ceasefire monitors from reaching the site of clashes in Mundri, Western Equatoria state in December by threatening to shoot them if they tried to investigate alleged helicopter gunship and other attacks, JMEC said.
JMEC, which is the group monitoring implementation of South Sudan’s peace deal, posted on its website a violation report by its monitoring team in Mundri which said that SPLA Lt. Col. Thomas Tut “denied the [Monitoring and Verification Team] freedom of movement by threatening to shoot them if they strayed outside the UNMISS compound and also by giving them 48 hours to get out of Mundri.”
The incident took place on 14 December 2015, one day after JMEC’s monitoring and verification team (MVT) arrived in Mundri following reports of fighting and allegations of helicopter gunship attacks, the report said.
According to the report, which is available in full here (pdf), local SPLA commander Tut prevented the MVT from accompanying a UNMISS patrol in the area and demanded a formal letter from SPLA command to allow them to move freely.
The monitoring team immediately asked the SPLA representative to the team Brigadier Thomas Gador to resolve the issue, and also wrote to the SPLA Director of Operations, the report said. The next day, the team received a response that they should direct their complaint to the government’s chief negotiator, who is information minister Michael Makuei Lueth.
Tut continued to deny the monitoring team from accessing areas in and around Mundri outside the UN base, and said if they left the compound they could be shot. The monitoring team returned to Juba on 20 December.
The monitoring team report said this was a violation of previous agreements with the government which allow them to move freely and investigate. The monitoring team recommended that JMEC chairman Festus Mogae raise the issue with President Salva Kiir, who is also SPLA Commander in Chief, noting that without freedom of movement they are unable to monitor violations of the peace deal he signed.
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