June 3, 2014 (JUBA) – The spokesperson of South Sudanese rebel leader, Riek Machar on Wednesday described as "misconstrued" and taken "out of context" media reports alleging the former vice-president had willingly admitted he was not in control of the country’s opposition forces.
- South Sudan’s rebel leader, Riek Machar, smiles as he meets his friends at the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa on 9 May 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)
“I was with him [Machar] when he made the statement in Nairobi. Reading the [media] report, I want to say his remarks were misconstrued and out of context. The forces he meant were not under his full control and needed training and orientation are the armed youth who recently joined the fight, but not the regular SPLA [Sudan Peoples Liberation Army] forces that defected to us,” James Gatdet Dak told Sudan Tribune.
Dak further argued that in order to bring them to discipline and full control, the armed youth who are volunteer fighters needed military training and orientation about the political objectives for the resistance movement.
“We want to train them and provide orientation to them about the political objectives of the SPLM/A in opposition and issues of human rights. In the process, they will listen to the leadership’s instructions and rules of military engagements thus instilling discipline in them,” he stressed.
The rebel leader’s spokesperson said unlike the armed youth volunteers, the rebel group’s regular forces were firmly under full control, with clear command structures.
The United Nations and the independent human right entities have released varying reports, at different times, pinning both warring parties in the ongoing conflict of committing atrocities based on ethnic identities or nationalities since fighting broke out.
Government forces, early last month, launched military offensives into several rebel strongholds, including Nasir town in Upper Nile state, in what rebels said was in violation of a ceasefire agreement signed on 23 January, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Attempts by rebel forces to regain control of these area appears to have been thawed by the 9 May cessation hostilities agreement signed by both president Salva Kiir and Machar in Addis Ababa.
South Sudan army (SPLA) spokesperson, Col. Philip Aguer said in a statement issued Monday that the rebels attempted to attack government forces in Upper Nile and Unity states, but were repulsed.
“From 31st May to 2nd June, forces of Riek Machar have been violating the ceasefire in Nassir, Bailet and Upper Nile State and Walkai in Unity State,” Aguer said in a statement, stressing that the government had already notified the monitoring and verification team about these “unacceptable” acts.
He was, however, not specific on the military operation in Unity state, but said a government soldier was killed in an attack on Nasir town.
Several others, he added, also sustained injuries, and were evacuated for further treatment to the Upper Nile capital, Malakal.