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South Sudan army not in regular contact with allied militia commander


May 13, 2015 (JUBA) - South Sudanese army (SPLA) on Wednesday said it was no longer making regular contacts with allied militia commander in the oil-rich Upper Nile state, prompting suspicions of games played in the matter.

Rebel commander Johnson Olony speaks to the press upon arrival at Juba international airport on 13 June 2013 (ST)

General Johnson Olony whose militia forces clashed three weeks ago with government troops inside the state capital, Malakal, failed to show up at the army headquarters in Juba despite directive by the high command to report to Juba. His forces captured Malakal from the government, displacing governor Simon Kun Puoch who takes refuge in Juba.

A high ranking officer in the South Sudanese army told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that the chief of general staff, Paul Malong Awan, has not been in regular contact with General Olony and stopped getting military briefings from him.

He said this happened after Major General Johnson Olony failed to comply with the directives asking him to travel to Juba as it was agreed.

“From schedules of briefings by the field commanders on security situation with chief of general staff, I noticed that Major General John Olony has not been on the schedules for some time now,” said the source.

“It is now more than two weeks and the chief of general staff has not asked any of us in the office to contact him. Also, we have not received any call from Olony, which is unusual development,” he said.

The officer, who works in the operation department within the office of chief of general staff, said Olony failed to come to the general headquarters even after he himself had given he would have gone.

Sources further speculated that General Olony might be buying time by playing the game while the government at the same time might be wanting to find a way to arrest him once in Juba.

It is said General Olony is believed to be in contact with the rebel faction led by the former vice president, Riek Machar, and that this week he sent a delegation to meet forces under the command of the rebel commander General Gabriel Tanginya, south of Malakal. But the opposition faction could not confirm the allegation.

General Garang Mabil, who is tasked with mediating the tension, told Sudan Tribune that he hoped Olony would come to Juba even though he had not kept his word, saying he might need to brief his forces.

“Olony told the committee led by comrade Mangar Buong last time when he visited Malakal that he will come after four days to Juba. He was supposed to come last Thursday. The reason he could not come was because he said he wanted to brief his forces first. I think he has now finished it and I hope he will come,” General Mabil said on Wednesday.

However, Olony himself denied in a separate interview that he was not in contact with the office of the president and general headquarters and security organs.

“I am still part of the government. I just finished talking with the office of the president. I also talk with the general headquarters. Actually there is no problem. The security situation in Malakal, as I am talking to you is calm and under control. I talk with Arkenjelo Abanga in Malakal and other SPLA commanders,” said Olony, referring to another commander of the SPLA forces who receives military instructions and orders from Juba.

Observers say Olony fears that if he surrenders to Juba he could be treated the same way General Gabriel Tanginye and General Mabor Dhoal and several officers were treated in 2011 following the Kaldak clashes between government troops and forces under their command.

His militia forces have not been integrated into the army since his return from Khartoum after independence. The clashes between his forces and government troops was sparked by the killing of his deputy in April whose death is blamed on pro-government troops and armed youth civilians hailing from the Dinka ethnic group in Upper Nile state.

He has since controlled the state capital and dislodged the state government, including the governor.


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  • 13 May 2015 23:25, by Kim Deng

    The Shilluk Kingdom seem to have learned its lessons from this "Dinka-Nuer" war. It would be better if they (Shilluk) remain neutral like Murle and Anyuak in this "Dinka-Nuer" war, otherwise they will suffer more.

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    • 13 May 2015 23:55, by Rommel

      Kim Deng:

      You want them to be "neutral"? I would love that, but were the Shilluk under Lam Akol "neutral" when we last danced? What about your Mundari allies in the 90s? The Bari dominated Popular Resistance Movement/Army? The Equatorial Defence force? The LRA? The Murahaleen? PDF? SAF?

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      • 14 May 2015 00:01, by Rommel

        As you can see, it is you that has been nourished with the luxury of many allies and yet you could not achieve your objectives against the Dinka during the war. We lost over a million people to your masters in Khartoum and we still didn’t bow down. It was the first time that the Dinka tribe worked together as a whole unit. You are fighting less than 2 out of the 15 Dinka sections.

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        • 14 May 2015 00:06, by Rommel

          This Sudan Tribune article is replete with errors. The most glaring among them is the notion that Johnson Olony is in full control of Malakal He is not. His forces are stationed in the southern districts of Malakal while the mainstream SPLA forces control the northern portion of the city.

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  • 14 May 2015 10:47, by Mapuor

    War will never solve our problems. Power struggle will never allow us to develop.Kerubino Kuanyin made a big mistake in allowing fake PhD holders to take a lead in the SPLA.People now look for fake PhDs and then use tribal forces to come to power through banditary.Dr Riek and Dr Lam did it in 1991 and again this time. Majak Agot tried it but failed to mobilize his Twii clan.Shame upon Nyagara

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