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South Sudan army says land grabbing not official policy


March 16, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s national army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), has distanced itself from reports charging that some of its soldiers and officers have been grabbing land in and around Juba in a manner indicative of the practice having become an official policy of the government and the army.

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SPLA soldiers in Malakal, capital of the battleground oil-state of Upper Nile on 15 May 2014 (Photo AFP/Ivan Lieman)

Deputy chief of general staff for operations, Lieutenant General James Ajonga Mawut, said on Wednesday that land grabbing, either by any officer or soldier, was not a policy of the general command of the SPLA or the government of the republic of South Sudan since inception as regional government in 2005.

“We have said time and again that these allegations of land grabbing, which some people have been trying to associate with SPLA has not been our practice. It is not the policy of the SPLA as the army of South Sudan to grab land. If there are individual soldiers and officers involving in this practice, we ask members of the general public and particularly those affected by the unruly and unfriendly behaviour to quickly bring up the matter to the attention of our relevant offices at the general headquarters,” General Mawut said in an interview with Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.

“I am sure the deputy chief of general staff for administration and finance would be able to handle it. I am sure he would work to find an appropriate office to look into these allegations and take appropriate measures to address the matter if it is established that those involved are active SPLA members,” he assured.

Mawut also confirmed reports that a joint military command from the Republican Guards known as Tiger Division, under the overall command of Major General Marial Chanuong, together with the guards of General Thomas Cirillo, have forcefully recovered land previously and illegally grabbed by some SPLA elements in Buduge village located east of Rejaf at the outskirts of the national capital, Juba.

The village is a home to the deputy chief of general staff for training, Lieutenant General Thomas Cirillo.

The commander of presidential guards force division, General Chanuong, last week visited the area and reportedly ordered the arrest of the ring leaders for what he described as irresponsible act that would have nearly caused an eruption of a bloody conflict between the members of ethnic Bari from the area and those from Dinka ethnic group who illegally attempted to acquire and own the land in the area.

It remains unclear how the issue developed and escalated to a high level tension between the two communities. Sources have been giving conflicting accounts. Military sources say the problem surfaced after General Thomas Cirillo, himself an ethnic Bari, reportedly protested the act at a meeting with the top SPLA generals, including the chief of general staff, Paul Malong Awan, at the general headquarters in Bilpham, north of Juba town.

It was reportedly in this meeting where General Cirillo was allegedly seen displaying his anger at the manner in which people have moved into his village and warned he would leave the army and go to the bush to fight against land grabbing.

As a result of his anger and threats, the army command instead decided to launch an operation against the land grabbers, who reportedly come from the Dinka ethnic groups of Bor and Padang.


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  • 17 March 2016 02:55, by jur_likang_a_ likan’g

    Now SPLA has come out against land grabbing one wonders that if this policy is only for those in high ranks of the army. How about thousand of citizens that have lost property under the arms of soldiers? Many people have lost their ancestral lands, taken by soldiers. How is GOSS going to deal with those culprits?

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    • 17 March 2016 04:31, by Dinka-Defender-General

      What those who lost their lives protecting that land? You are pissing me off. Tell me please. I need some answers or otherwise, stop this bullshit behavior. In 80s, 90s, and 20s no one talked about land grabbing. Now, peace is signed and Arabs had been clearing out in Juba, land grabbing comes up million times. Stop. Stop. Stop!

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      • 17 March 2016 15:12, by Hardlinner

        Dinka general, please be reasonable. we did not fight to end up grabbing other people land. if those soldiers can not afford to buying land, then let rent houses to live in.
        land grabbing was the reason why majority dinka went to bush to fight Arab wannabes of the north. so reasonable dinka people won’t support your suggesting Dinka general.

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  • 17 March 2016 13:52, by Nyesi Ta

    War is the answer those savages understand. Thank God they have exposed themselves to the international community, at least everyone know who the Jenge are, including our neigbors. Now what is the difference between Jenge and the arabs when they are repeating the same thing the arabs did for many decades. Are people suppose to keep quiet idiots? War war war is the answer to all the jenge injustice

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  • 17 March 2016 23:01, by Realist

    You want to talk about land grabbing? You haven’t seen anything. Just go to greater Upper Nile, particularly in Akobo area. There, land grabbing has been made an official policy. What you need to do is to mobilize your people in big number. Just mobilize your clan in big number to move to somebody’s land. Then claim it as yours. Good example, Lou Nuer in Akobo.

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