A report released this week by Small Arms Survey has warned of pre-election violence in Western Equatoria State over growing political tensions between Speaker Jemma Nunu and Governor Alfred Futuyo.
The report Titled: Jemma’s War: Political Strife in Western Equatoria State stated that politicians in Western Equatoria State are allegdely playing ethnicity cards, with the Avongara elite moving against Futuyo by casting him as an outsider.
The situation report seen by Eye Radio stated that the ethnicization of politics has set family members against each other and closed civic and political space in the state.
The Small Arms Survey warned that the proposed elections in 2024 threaten to be explosive because both Futuyo and Nunu see the current situation as a zero-sum contest.
The report stated it is unlikely that Western Equatoria state will get to the stage of holding elections before it is convulsed by violence.
It pointed out that the Azande Avongara elite around Speaker Nunu, the speaker of the national parliament is making a concerted effort to remove Governor Futuyo, while the governor is likewise moving against Nunu.
According to the Small Arms Survey, Futuyo, who is of Balanda and Zande heritage, has refashioned himself as a Balanda ethnonationalist.
Since the 2021 violence in Tambura County, politics in Western Equatoria has become increasingly ethnicized.
It says some members of the royal family also known as Avongara successfully transposed political tension between the SPLM/A and SPLM/A-IO onto ethnic tension between the Azande and Balanda.
The Small Arms Survey says the state government is divided between the two political parties, with both sides building up a war chest in preparation for future conflict.
According to the report, this political strife has inflamed tensions on the ground and the SPLM/A-IO and government forces have been patrolling independently in the state capital, Yambio.
The Small Arms Survey is a global Centre of excellence whose mandate is to generate impartial, evidence-based, and policy-relevant knowledge on all aspects of small arms and armed violence.
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