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Eritrea denies supporting South Sudan rebels

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

March 19, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) - The Eritrean government has dismissed reports alleging that the Red Sea nation has been providing military support to South Sudan rebels led by former vice president, Riek Machar.

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President of Eritrea Isaias Afewerki (Photo: Getty Images)

Recently, Eritrean citizens living in Bor, the capital of South Sudan’s Jonglei state, alleged that they have been receiving threats because Eritrea is backing the insurgency, which began other three months ago.

Eritreans who fled to neighbouring countries in protest to political oppression in the homeland are considered to be traitors by the government in Asmara and could face lengthy prison terms if returned home.

In late February, American human rights activist, John Prendergast addressed the United States Congress subcommittee on Africa about the alleged military support and the concern raised by Eritreans in Jonglei.

In a statement issued few days ago, the Eritrean government said the country has in the past been falsely accused of supporting Khartoum in the April 2012 battle between Sudan and South Sudan over the contested oil-town border town of Heglig.

Asmara also said that they have wrongly been accused of backing David Yau Yau, who has been leading rebellions against the Juba government on and off for almost four years.

"Today they are peddling a preposterous lie accusing the Government of Eritrea for supporting Machar" the statement said, adding "No one is surprised by this outrageous lie".

The Eritrean government further said its relation with the government and people of South Sudan is an indelible historical fact. Asmara supported the now government (SPLM) and national army (SPLA) of South Sudan during the civil war that led to independence from Sudan in 2011.

"Eritrea’s unequivocal stance in regard to the new realities was not influenced by, and occurred irrespective of, the factors and protagonists that impinged on the unfolding developments," the statement said

A negotiator with South Sudan’s SPLM-in-opposition in Addis Ababa similarly rejected the rebel group has ties with the Eritrean government.

"We have no relation with Eritrea. Neither have we ever talked to them nor they ever talked to us," Puot Kang Chol, one of the representatives of the 16-member rebel delegation, told Sudan Tribune.

He, however, said Eritrea has the right to voice concern like any other African countries over the situation in South Sudan.

He dismissed allegations of receiving any military support from Eritrea.

A new round of regionally mediated peace talks talks between South Sudan’s government and SPLM in Opposition is due to resume in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Thursday.

So far IGAD - the Intergovernmental Authority on Development - has only managed to get the two sides to a agree to a weak ceasefire deal that both sides were unable to keep.

It is hoped that the next round of talks will address the root causes of the conflict which was triggered by a power struggle within the SPLM back in December.

Some observers have told Sudan Tribune that the resumption of the peace talks are unlikely, arguing that rebels are unhappy with the regional bloc’s decision to deploy East African troops in South Sudan in addition to the peacekeepers deployed as part of the United Nations mission, which is in the process of increasing to over 14,000 personnel.

(ST)

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  • 20 March 2014 06:08, by Johndumo14

    The Nuer tribe will pay a high Price for this war!!The Rebel leader Riek Mqachar is a Nuer ,the White army are from Nuer,General peter gadet is from Nuer,top South Sudan army commander James Koang Chuol based iBENTIU is a Nuer,most of th rebels solsiers are from Nuer.Where we go from here? Is this nationalism or tribolism?Africa must ruled in this way? Dr Riek is very dangerous guy !!

    repondre message

    • 20 March 2014 08:10, by mathem jech amer

      There are so many evidences including those in Nassir who claimed they were forcefully recruited by rebels.

      repondre message

    • 20 March 2014 09:01, by Johndumo14

      Dr Riek Machar spokesman says,our forces have withdrawn from Malakal for tactical reasons. We will however retakethe town soon.You talk like stupid person,come even if you come 100 times,you are the loser after all nuer children are to suffer,no food ,no education,This is not the first time SPLA are at war with only Nuer rebels,they did in 1991 and they will do it Again even if you join Bashir.

      repondre message

    • 20 March 2014 09:42, by Rami Tot

      the Dinka government always act like prostitute running to accuse what and what, what a fail tribal government is this?

      repondre message

    • 21 March 2014 05:56, by Black Africa

      Under the leadership of president Salva Kiir,everything is dominant by Dinka tibe.Is South Sudan,Republic of Dinka or What is going on ? I am not supported of Riek Machar and I don’t want Riek Machar to be our President,but tribalism is already exist under leaderships of President Kiir.

      repondre message

  • 20 March 2014 15:56, by Kim Deng

    The Mighty Nuer Warriors are now dancing in Malakal (Latjor City) after coward Jaang/Slaves stayed in the town for less than 24 hrs.
    Shame on coward Jaang/Slaves!

    repondre message

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