The ongoing national peace committee aimed at uniting warring factions in South Sudan has suffered a setback after unknown gunmen crossed into Yumbe District in Uganda on Wednesday night and shot dead Jacob Kuwinsuk Gale, the Member of Parliament for Yei River State Transitional Legislative Assembly.
According to Mr Alfred Kenneth Duku, the Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sport for Yei River State, Kuwinsuk Gale was in Yumbe with other South Sudan MPs making consultations as part of the national dialogue.
“The late and three other members of SPLA headed by the deputy speaker of SPLA Yokoju Sivalano were sent by the state on November 22 to conduct consultative grass root peace meetings and dialogues with community members of greater Kajo-Keji Counties and the consultations went successful,” he said in the statement.
While no rebel group has claimed responsibility of the killing, the minister said the legislator was killed by anti-peace elements loyal to former vice president Riek Machar.
“The late was rushed to Midigo health facility but died on the way before being referred to Arua hospital for better health treatment,” he said.
However, the Deputy Spokesperson of the SPLA-IO that is loyal to Dr Machar, Col Gabriel Lam Paul, denied any involvement in the killing.
“The SPLA-IO does not operate abroad especially in Uganda where the government protects and provides security of the South Sudan refugees. Our thoughts are with the family of the MP,” said Col Lam.
The SPLA-IO controls the Ugandan border areas stretching from Yei to Kajo-Keji areas although another rebel group of Martin Kenyi also operates in Kajo-Keji.
The deceased MP served in the State Transitional Legislative Assembly as the chairperson for members’ affairs, gender and human rights committee.
The government of South Sudan has formed a National Peace committee that has been visiting the refugee camps to them hope of possible return to South Sudan.
The committee, which was set up by President Salva Kiir in June, has been seeking to revitalize the collapsed 2015 peace agreement.
Mr Kiir pointed out that the national dialogue will be bottom-top approach to address local grievances and political issues in the country. But some members of the opposition described the dialogue as “bogus”.
The delay in the implementation of the South Sudan Revitalisation Programme is providing a breeding space for new rebel groups.
Since fresh fighting broke out in Juba in July 2016 that scattered the August 2015 peace agreement, rebel groups keep on coming up; the number has now reached 11.
Experts on South Sudan say that this is an indication that the August 2015 peace agreement signed by the three groups—President Salva Kiir, rebel leader Dr Riek Machar and former detainees — did not take into consideration many other grievances in the country that are now coming to the fore.