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South Sudan army denies the arrest of top military officers is linked to attempted coup

August 1, 2012 (JUBA) – A top-level military officer on Tuesday denied reports alleging the arrests of senior military officers in the South Sudanese army (SPLA), including the deputy chief of military intelligence, Mac Paul, relate to an attempted coup.

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SPLA soldiers at the commemoration of the Martyrs Day in Juba on 31 July 2012 (Photo Larco Lomayat)

"The mission of SPLA as national army is clearly defined in the onstitution. We are a national army with no political allegiance and activities. Our constitutional responsibility is simply to uphold democratic values and defend our country", said James Hoth Mai, Chief of General Staff of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

"We have nothing to do with politics and political claims," he further told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.

Hoth was reacting to news reports quoting anonymous security sources alleging an attempted coup by senior government officials intending to topple the country’s leadership under president Salva Kiir. An allegation Kiir publicly dismissed on Monday.

SPLA military sources say Paul and fellow senior SPLA member, Marial Nuor, both of whom are now in detention, "have long been controversial figures. Their names have always appeared in illegal detention and torture of their opponents," it was claimed.

Hoth denied to Sudan Tribune the arrest and the foiled military coup.

"I am not aware of the arrest. These are just wishful thinking of enemies of peace and stability of South Sudan". As for president Kiir, he was reacting to increasing and quickly spreading rumours of the alleged failed coup attempt, he added.

He described the reports as reminiscent of the “Sudanese media that report lies and allegations without verifying authenticity of the information they receive”.

In his speech last Monday at the celebration of Martyr Day in Juba, Hoth reaffirmed the neutrality of the South Sudanese army to any political activities and leadership and said it is the only constitutionally recognised national army tasked with the duty to defend the country with impartiality

"I want to assure our government and the people of the Republic of South Sudan that, as the SPLA strives to become a professional and accountable military, it is fully committed to the principles of democracy which ensures that it is a non-political and non-partisan military which is subordinate to the civil institutions of the Republic of South Sudan, Hoth said.

The top military officers also assured the public of the readiness of the army to contribute to the building of the new nation in providing adequate security and safety.

He accused the army of neigbouring Sudan, with which they have clashed in several places months prior to a widely condemned clash in the oil producing area of Panthou, aka Heglig, of having killed innocent civilians through air raids and surprised ground incursions in the recent past.

Major General Andrea Dominic, who commands fifth division of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Western Bahr el Ghazal State, equally, in a separate interview with Sudan Tribune, abhorred attacks by the Sudanese armed forces and affirmed commitment of the country’s army to defend the territorial integrity of the new nation.

(ST)