Home | News    Saturday 5 November 2011

S. Sudan opposition leader arrested over rebel links, 2 killed in W. Equatoria

November 4, 2011 (JUBA) — At least two people were killed on Thursday when South Sudan’s military - the SPLA - battled forces loyal to a key southern opposition leader, who was arrested after army intelligence linked him to one of the country’s rebel groups.

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Peter Abdul Rahaman Sule addresses a press conference in Juba, March 9, 2011 (UN photo)

SPLA spokesperson, Phillip Aguer, said Peter Abdul Rahaman Sule, the leader of the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) was arrested in Jambo payam, Mundri East county of Western Equatoria state, after a brief exchange of fire between his forces and the army.

“The army and its intelligence have been monitoring his [Sule] activities from the time he was removed from government over a year ago. Some of the intelligence reports showed that he had plans to rebel against the government,” said Aguer.

The army spokesperson also identified an SPLA Major attached to Bilpham headquarters in Juba, the country’s capital, as a key figure behind the formation of the new rebel militia. The army officer, whose identity remained unclear, reportedly disappeared from the army headquarters three weeks ago.

“I can confirm that the UDF leader has been brought back to Juba. The army will investigate the matter and appropriate actions will be taken in due course,” he told Sudan Tribune.

A day before his arrest, UDF party officials had reported that its leader, who previously served as South Sudan’s minister for cooperatives and rural development had been missing for nearly three weeks.

According to David William, the party’s secretary general has resolved to elect a new chairman during their next convention, an indication that the members no longer recognised Sule as the party’s leader.

Founded in 1998, UDF was among the five southern opposition parties that boycotted the endorsement of South Sudan’s transitional constitution.

The other parties included: South Sudan Democratic Alliance (SSDA), Sudan People Liberation Movement for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC), United South Sudan Party (USSP) and South Sudan Democratic Front (SSDF).

Leaders from the five parties accused the south’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) of allegedly violating rules of procedures adopted during their meeting and deviating from resolutions adopted during the south-south political dialogue held in October 2010 ahead of South Sudan’s successful referendum on independence.

The controversial constitution which was sworn in on July 9 when South Sudan seceded from north Sudan has been criticised by opposition groups and some members of the ruling SPLM for centralising power in Juba.

President Salva Kiir has the ability to sack any elected official in South Sudan if he deems it a matter of national security.