Home | News    Saturday 22 February 2014

S. Sudan admits to tactical withdrawal in Malakal

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February 21, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan presidential press secretary said on Friday that government forces had "withdrawn tactically" from Malakal the capital of oil producing Upper Nile state on Wednesday.

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A young woman runs through the street as gunshots ring out a few streets over, in Malakal, Upper Nile state, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. (Photo AP /Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin)

Ateny Wek Ateny, speaking at news conference in Juba, said president Salva Kiir has "instructed delegates" at the stalled peace talks taking place just outside Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to remain at the negotiations.

"Our forces withdrawn from Malakal tactically to southern part of the town,"said Wek.

"I know [this] is the most difficult situation in this is that the rebels attacked Malakal in clear violations to cessation of hostilities," he added.

"Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit instructed our mediators to continue to negotiate peace in Addis Ababa. Although the talks have not resumed on face-to-face, it is clear that the government is still willing to negotiate peace with the rebels," Wek said.

Opposition forces deny triggering the attack on Malakal early this week saying they were merely defending themselves and filled the vacuum left by the South Sudanese army (SPLA) as they retreated.

President Kiir’s spokesperson on Friday reiterated his commitment to finding a peaceful settlement to the 13-week-old conflict, despite rebel threats and activities to seize all oilfields and close down production, should his administration continue to fail to meet their demands.

As a precondition to talks resuming the rebels, led by former vice-president Riek Machar, who Kiir sacked last year, the SPLM/A in Opposition are insisting that the four remaining political detainees in Juba be released and the Ugandan army withdraw from the country.

The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) is being paid by South Sudan to help them combat the rebellion, which began following a dispute within the presidential guards on 15 December.

"The president had instructed the government delegation in Addis to go ahead with the negotiation, despite what happened in Malakal. They have been mandated to do all they can within their capacities to comeback with peace. This is what our people and this is what the president wants. President Salva Kiir has the country in his heart. He wants peace and stability to return to the country as soon as possible" Ateny told Sudan Tribune on Friday.

Ateny said the government has been receiving reports indicating humanitarian challenges are reaching catastrophic levels at the United Nations camp in Malakal, where the internally displaced have reportedly been denied access to water beyond the premises of the United Nations there since yesterday.

"The incoming reports from Malakal are that the internally displaced persons are subjected to the targeted killings based on their ethnicity identities. Women are being raped and the unnecessary killings of everybody, including the elderly, the sick people on the hospital beds, inhuman activities similar to what happened in Bor have repeatedly itself in Malakal. The world knows who are carrying these activities and they are keeping quiet", Ateny said on Friday.

Both sides have been accused of atrocities. During the first days of the conflict members of Machar’s Nuer ethnic group were targeted in the capital Juba by members of the army and security services leading to over 100 arrests.

According to a senior United Nations source the thousands of people who sought shelter at the UN base in the capital would have been killed had they not been allowed into the compound.

Over 700,000 people have been internally displaced and over 150,000 have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries.

Also on 18 February inter-communal clashes flared up within the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Malakal, which is currently hosting 21,568 people.

Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesperson for the UN secretary-general, said on Friday that an UNMISS patrol "observed Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in Opposition forces and armed youth on the streets as well as Opposition elements along with some South Sudanese National Police and other uniformed personnel at a former SPLA checkpoint."

The UNMISS patrol counted more than 50 bodies in various parts of Malakal and the town had been looted and appeared to be generally empty of civilians.

"The UN Mission also reported sporadic firing this morning close to its Malakal compound. The Mission says that it responded by moving armoured vehicles to the spot. Two women, who sustained wounds, were admitted to the UN hospital inside the base."

There have also been reports that "a number of people have been killed this week at the Malakal Teaching Hospital, including those who sought shelter at the facility" haq said.

"Access to the hospital is currently restricted due to insecurity in the town and aid agencies have not yet been able to verify the reports first-hand."

The UN secretary-general he said has warned of catastrophic consequences for civilian populations from the renewed clashes in Malakal and urged "all parties to the conflict to respect International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and ensure that civilians are protected."

The presidential spokesperson’s admission that the SPLA has lost control of Malakal contradicts previous government statements claiming that government was still in control of large parts of Malakal and that it was only a matter of time before they would regain complete control.

"The unfortunate situation of Malakal was a tactical withdrawal to avoid unnecessary panic and more death of innocent youth on rampage of Malakal mobilized by the rebels.

The army has been avoiding pursuing the rebels to the villages after capturing Malakal where they mobilized and continue their coming back to the towns, but this time the government will find ways of tracking the rebels from the villages they continue to coerce the innocent youth to the rebellion", Ateny said in a statement he extended to Sudan Tribune adds in part.

(ST)

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  • 22 February 07:26, by Bolman

    let them lying until the reaching them in Juba

    repondre message

  • 22 February 08:10, by Majongdit

    Ateny,
    Time and time again,, I have said that this war needs now to be given the same amount of attention that we Dinkas used to give to all other wars in the past. When our youths want to mobilize in huge numbers they are told that this is not war against Nuer. Our youths are more than willing to march into Nuer villages and houses and stay there. But the same govt refuses them do so.

    repondre message

    • 22 February 12:07, by Tutbol

      Majongdit,
      You know, Salva Kiir is not a strategist, a warrior or a thinker, but a coward & a nationalist. In our nilotics plains, i thought, our leaders are supposed to be braved, honest, to have sense of humility, hardworking & many other traits, but Salva Kiir aims is to be a S Sudanese leader at any price, but will let S Sudanese be bullied by anyone, continues to keep quiet...

      repondre message

      • 22 February 12:20, by Tutbol

        This Riek Machar armed rebellion is being ’air waved’ as a rebellion against the Dinka govt & Salva Kiir is letting these criminals getting away, with a rebellion that has killed peoples who have nothing to do with Riek or himself. Who shouldN’t have died. Instead, he seems to not be facing the US or UK that are tcaitly supporting Riek Machar’s armed rebellion...

        repondre message

        • 22 February 12:29, by Tutbol

          There are communities who do not want evils peoples like English peoples, the US establishment, evil French & their juus. These criminals are not wanted in our nilitics plains. These criminals should better be respected in their own evil lands not & not in our nilotics plains. I for one, i have never been a fan of the English (UK) & French, they are monsters.

          repondre message

          • 22 February 15:14, by Hardlinner

            Kiir is indeed the reason why riek rebelled. He is so weak ,coward and never listen to true dinka nationals and other none nuer tribes. The guy has been on power for atleast 9 years and had never done any thing to improve spla capabilities air and land wise. In fact we should take our command to deal with this nuer primitive. I question kiir dinkaness.

            repondre message

    • 22 February 21:08, by Ross

      let me say the truth, SPLA loyal to Kiir were defeated badly in Malakal, and only few were able to escape. believe me or not at least 5 tank were capture from them and also the Ugandan troops who were in between Malakal and Canal are all killed by the rebel. so Ateny should tell the truth about it.

      repondre message

  • 22 February 08:23, by Whortti Bor Manza

    No government on earth will ever make what is called tactical withdrawal unless forced to do so. this is synonymous with forceful eviction or defeat by the rebels. War is war. who ever is stronger will always win on the battle field. This time it is Riek’s turn. The SPLA should simply admit this set back. You cannot tactically withdraw from a strategic oil producing town like Malakal.

    repondre message

    • 22 February 12:47, by Konkooc

      why Salva Kiir still saying no is not a tribal war while nuer made it clear that they want to over throw Dinka goverment.
      Please kiir Dinka will got tied of you because you stop Dinka to revenge like nuer are doing. now Dinka will not listen to you and they will do what ever necessary to defense themselves. riak has accepted icc why not you.do what riak doing to Dinka and go to icc with him.

      repondre message

      • 22 February 12:51, by Konkooc

        if am Kiir i will let Dinka fuck all nuer in South Sudan and go to icc with riak if that what is what Salva is afraid of it. riak want to destroy your leadership because he knows himself already spoiled by stupid hungry nuer

        repondre message

      • 22 February 22:45, by George Bol

        President Salva Kiir must wake up and let Dinka do their things and all these mess should have been done long time ago.
        Why not pursue rebels to their counties from the beginning?
        That is a first mistake and will be agreat mistake if SPLA fail to order SPLA and Dink youth to match to Nuer land.
        Nuer! you will have nowhere to hide when Dinka declar it as awar bn Dinka and Nuer,Mark my words

        repondre message

  • 23 February 06:16, by hellonearth

    Breaking News

    News just in is that Paloch north of Malakal has been captured by SPLA in Opposition. stay tuned for more news to come.

    repondre message

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