March 19, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) - The rebel SPLM-In-Opposition have confirmed the recapture the capital of Upper Nile state, Malakal by the South Sudanese army and vowed to retake it soon.
- Rebel forces pose for a photo in Malakal, the capital of South Sudan’s Upper Nile state, on 4 March 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Andreea Campeanu)
James Gatdet Dak, the spokesperson for the rebel leader, Riek Machar, has confirmed SPLA troops loyal to the government have retaken control of the strategic town on Wednesday, saying their forces had tactically withdrawn to few kilometres outside Malakal.
"Yes our forces have withdrawn from Malakal for tactical reasons. We will however retake the town soon. Our resistance forces are only a few kilometers outside Malakal," Dak told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday evening.
He reiterated accusations against the government for violating the cessation of hostilities agreement the two parties signed in Addis Ababa on 23 January.
"What the government has done is in violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement. We suspect that Salva Kiir’s forces with their foreign allies wanted to retake control of the town before the next round of peace talks scheduled for Thursday, 20 March," he further said.
He also challenged that the deployment of the IGAD forces being talked about on invitation of the government in Juba contributed to the violation as it gave "false" confidence to the government to continue charting the path of violence with the hope that it will continue to secure protection by the incoming regional troops whose deployments the rebels have rejected.
Earlier this week rebel officials reiterated their rejection for the deployment of IGAD troops which is accused of taking the side of the government.