January 20, 2017 (JUBA) - The continental body, the African Union (AU) next month will verify that J South Sudan is no longer harbouring Sudanese rebels, Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk told a local radio station on Friday.
- Rebel fighters from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) on patrol in the border state of South Kordofan on 6 April 2012 (Photo: AFP/Adriane Ohanesian)
In line with the peace agreement signed between the South Sudanese warring parties in August 2015, the South Sudanese government committed itself to not give refuge to the armed groups fighting the Sudanese army in Darfur or the Two Areas.
Juuk said the SPLM- North, former north Sudanese members of the ruling South Sudanese SPLM, has moved its troops from Raja and are away from Western Bahr El Ghazal, the region bordering Sudan in southwest of Juba.
"There is progress on our side. We now (re)moved out everybody [Sudanese rebels from South Sudan territory], said the minister in statements to U.S funded Eye Radio on Friday.
South Sudan publicly admitted presence of the anti- Khartoum rebels groups within its borders last year and pledged to cooperate with Sudanese government to cease any support in exchange of similar move against SPLM-In-Opposition which is fighting Juba for the last three years.
However, it is the first time that a South Sudanese official speaks about the presence of SPLM-N fighters in South Sudan. Previous reports focused on Darfur groups particularly the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) which is accused of fighting South Sudanese rebels alongside the government troops.
Juuk did not specify the number of SPLM-N fighters that have left South Sudan or when they evacuated. He said the verification of this commitment from Juba will be inspected by the AU.
“Possibly within one month, they [AU military inspectors] will come so that we patrol the area," he said without giving a precise date.
When contacted by Sudan Tribune on phone, Ministry of Defence officials declined to comment on the story.
In the radio interview, Minister Juuk said Sudan has cease support to anti- South Sudan government forces. He added that supporters of the SPLM- N in South Sudan, including business people, will be asked to leave Juba.
“We want to advise anybody that might have been in South Sudan as a trader and has links with the rebels to leave the country,” he said.
There are thousands Sudanese traders mostly from Darfur region in South Sudan. It is not clear how Juba will identify rebels sympathizers.