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South Sudan denies rebels have retaken Upper Nile capital

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March 20, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan denied reports on Thursday alleging rebel forces had recaptured Upper Nile state capital Malakal, one day after government troops took control of the key town.

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Soldiers from the South Sudanese army (SPLA) sit on a pick-up truck during a patrol in Upper Nile state Malakal on 21 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Harrison Ngethi)

State governor Simon Kun Puoc told Upper Nile community members in Juba on Thursday that the army had established full control of the town and was pursuing the rebels in different directions east of Malakal.

Rebels confirmed on Wednesday that government troops were in control of the town, saying rebel forces had temporarily pulled back from Malakal.

“Do not listen to lies which are intended to cause confusion by the people who have failed to show they could be any better in this country in any capacity when they were given assignments at different levels. The people who failed this country are now the ones leading rebellion,” Puoc told an audience of predominantly government officials, who had gathered to celebrate the recapture of the administrative headquarters of the strategic oil-rich state.

Reports that rebels had recaptured Malakal began circulating Thursday via various media and social media networks.

However, Upper Nile state information minister Philip Jiben Ogal described the allegations as wishing thinking and unfounded propaganda” spread by opposition forces to undermine the government.

SPLA IN CONTROL

In a joint press conference with presidential spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny, the spokesperson for the South Sudanese army (SPLA), Colonel Philip Aguer, said that government forces had established “full control” of Malakal at about 4.30pm (local time) Wednesday.

“Many people have been asking why Malakal exchanged hands many times and whether the same thing will repeat itself. I want to tell you that in the fighting you do not predict what will happen this time. We are telling you what happened. Also the SPLA took time to retake Malakal town not because it was not able to [re]take [it], but [because] we wanted to study the nature of the rebel forces,” Aguer told a contingent of both local and international journalists on Thursday.

The SPLA spokesperson described rebels’ claims to had regained control of the oil-rich capital less than 24 hours after it fell to pro-government forces as the "joke of the day".

"The gallant forces of the SPLA are 100 percent in control of Malakal and its surrounding areas. What the rebels are claiming is not true," Aguer separately told Sudan Tribune by phone.

Malakal has been the scene of heavy fighting in recent months, changing hands several times since political tensions erupted in violence in Juba in mid-December before spreading to other parts of the country.

The conflict has pitted government forces loyal to president Salva Kiir and rebel factions aligned with former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar.

A ceasefire deal signed between the two warring sides on 23 January has failed to stem the violence and there have been increasing reports of atrocities emerging from Malakal, with patients to ill to flee apparently shot dead in their hospital beds during raids on healthcare facilities.

HIGH-LEVEL VISIT

A high-level army delegation under the leadership Northern Bahr el Ghazal governor Paul Malong Awan, a close ally of the president, along with SPLA deputy chief of general staff for operation Lt Gen James Ajonga Mawut Unguec, visited SPLA forces in Malakal town on Thursday.

A military source told Sudan Tribune the official visit was made to boost the morale of troops following the recapture of Malakal, which had been under rebel control since 18 February.

In a statement congratulating SPLA forces, Ramadan Mohamed Abdullah, acting secretary-general of the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), said Malakal’s recapture is a clear demonstration of the commitment of the government to protect civilians and properties.

(ST)

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  • 21 March 07:43, by George Bol

    Riek machar must surrender to SPLA,so that we forgive him like in 2002. I am glad the Nuer threat is alway zero.This conflict will teach Nuer to be a good people. That will not make them to fight first without analysis. Their children and wives are starving to death in Kenya, Uganda and camps

    repondre message

    • 21 March 07:52, by omoni jr.

      George Bol
      you are a really comedian. you should go to Hollywood in L.A.

      repondre message

      • 21 March 07:56, by Mi diit

        George Bol,
        The Nuer war has not yet started. It is rather taking roots before the real danger comes. I promise you that you will cry and cry and cry and the Nuer will be in Juba with Riek Machar as your president. Mark my words. I swear!

        repondre message

        • 21 March 08:10, by Majongdit

          Mi Diit,
          You are known liar and propagandist. The Nuer have given it all their trial. They fought all, but they cannot manage of course. 2% of Dinka have participated in the fight. It is not yet a Dinka war oh dear slave.

          repondre message

        • 21 March 10:34, by Muorcienggok

          Midiit, despite the fact that 99% of the Nuer have rebelled but you have not made it to hold onto towns you had captured such as Bentiu, Malakal and the most disgracing one is your failure to defend Leer, the home area of your greedy rebel leader Riek, if I were you I would feel shame to campaign for the war in which you are not able to defend your home towns.

          repondre message

    • 21 March 07:53, by Mi diit

      Traitor Simon Kun Puoch was brought up like political orphan by Riek Machar, but now he has betrayed his mentor. Shame on you Kun (rat). You will die in Upper Nile like a slave. Nobody will ever trust you. You are a traitor who worships the Dinka kingdom and to kill your own people of Nasir.

      repondre message

      • 21 March 08:08, by moto

        MIIDIT,
        STATE ARE SELF INTEREST AND POWER SEEKING RATIONAL ACTOR,ACT OF WAR MUST BE BASED ON SELF INTEREST RATHER THAN ON IDEALISM.THAT IS WHAT I DO KNOW,IF NOT SO WHY DO WE FIGHT FOR INDIVIDUAL AND NOT THE INTEREST OF OUR PEOPLE? WHAT KIND OF DEMOCRACY CAUSE THE TRANSFER OF POPULATION AND SUFFERING OF CIVILIANS?THIS DEMOCRACY IS ON TRIAL.

        repondre message

    • 21 March 11:46, by Mayom County Boy

      @George
      Bol the movement still going ahead antill we find the meaning of what
      we need we nuer.if riek want to join SPLA again like what he did in 2002
      is up to him.but keep it in mine our movement still as you witness in
      Malakal this two days .your forces suffered alot in malakal .

      repondre message

  • 21 March 07:56, by Raanchol

    SPLA Oyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee,
    The heart and power of any country around the globe is the army, congratulations SPLA for your heroic sacrifice to defend the country, Riek Machar must go to hell or we either catch him alive or dead............... period.

    repondre message

    • 21 March 08:12, by Malakal county Simon

      Let’s them lies as usual.... But the reality on the ground we the Freedom- Fighters we are in control of Malakal as I,m speaking to you now.... In addition to that, we have captured both Afar and Fuel Guk.... Cheers to Freedom Fighters....
      South Sudan Oyee!!!!
      Democracy Oyee!!!!
      Dr Machar Oyee!!!!

      repondre message

      • 21 March 09:41, by mathem jech amer

        Simaon Makal County
        You don’t even a single place in Upper Nile, a slave who brushes dogs teeth in America. There is no any place called Afar and Fuel in Upper Nile, maybe in USA, Khartoum and bushes of Nuer.

        repondre message

        • 21 March 10:54, by Malakal county Simon

          Mathem Jech Amer
          You’re absolutely right!!!! But excuse me with what I wrote above, what I meant was to said we captured both Adar and Guel Guk hahah.... again Sorry for incorrect information .... Now let’s us all celebrate the Feedom Fighters victory in Malakal, over Kiir mercenaries!!!!

          repondre message

  • 21 March 08:10, by George Bol

    Malong Awan should be deputy minister of defend. Other Nuer rebels would be in hell

    repondre message

    • 21 March 11:08, by Frak Cho

      Please Mr President, do not let Malakal be taken from again by the rebels. Also look at the welfare of the National Army with full interest and show them love, care and concern.

      repondre message

      • 21 March 12:00, by viper

        up to this time, Malakal deserve a military governor, somebody of the calibre of Malong who will make it difficult for the rebels to retake Malakal. our people should not suffer running in and out daily in Malakal. we are really tired of that type of war. rebels should only remain in the bushes, not in the towns.

        repondre message

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