December 20, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s army (SPLA) says it is in “full control” of all the country’s 10 states, with the exception of Jonglei where one of its division commanders, Peter Gadet Yak, has mutinied, the military’s spokesperson, Phillip Aguer, said.
- SPLA spokesperson Phillip Aguer (AP)
Gadet switched allegiance in protest at alleged targeted killings of members of his ethnic group, the Nuer, following the eruption of fighting between rival factions of the presidential guard forces in the capital, Juba.
“The SPLA is in full control of the general situation in the country, except [for] some few places in Jonglei”, the spokesperson said, adding that it is only a “matter of time” before the army regains full control of the state.
There have also been reports of tension within the SPLA’s divisions in Unity and Upper Nile, which also have a high number of Nuer soldiers, although Aguer maintains the situation is under control.
“The chief of general staff has been in constant contact with SPLA forces in Unity and Upper Nile states, which are controlling the general security situation there. There is no problem”, he said.
He also denied that the SPLA’s general headquarters in Juba had lost communications with the commander of division four in Unity state.
Aguer told Sudan Tribune that the army was meeting at the general headquarters north of Juba to discuss the general security situation across the country.
The senior military officer did not provide specific details of the meeting, but expressed hope that stability would soon be restored.
Many observers and independent analysts have expressed deep concerns that any outbreak of fighting in Unity and Upper Nile could affect the flow of oil to international markets through the territory of neighbouring Sudan.
However state officials and the central government maintain that oil production has not been interrupted, despite emerging reports indicating that Chinese oil companies have pulled out their staff to Unity capital Bentiu following clashes between local staff at two oil fields.
South Sudan relies on oil revenues for around 90% of its income.
The United Nations in South Sudan (UNMISS) says it is providing shelter for civilians in at least five state capitals, including Juba and the restive Jonglei capital, Bor.
South Sudan’s information and broadcasting minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, said oil is continuing to flow, but an official at the ministry of petroleum and mining said 250 oil workers have been displaced to the UN headquarters in Bentiu town after being targeted in tribal clashes.
“The current security situation in Unity [state] will definitely affect oil production and operation”, an official, who did not want to be identified, told Sudan Tribune on Friday.
“The situation has taken [on a] tribal dimension, so the company decided to relocate these workers who are now facing [the] problem of food and water. We have made the report to the president about this situation and we are waiting for a response”, the official added.