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South Sudan Official Denies Split in SPLM Ranks Following Attack on Military Base

Minister for regional cooperation Oyay Deng Ajak says those responsible for the attack will be brought to book and if possible banned from the SPLA

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James Butty

Authorities in South Sudan have confirmed that one of their military bases was attacked last Friday apparently by one of their own.

The South Sudan People’s Liberation Army accused one of its officers -- George Athor or his supporters -- of masterminding the attack after he lost the race to become governor of the oil-producing Jonglei state in Sudan’s recent elections.

South Sudan Map
South Sudan Map

Oyay Deng Ajak, south Sudan’s minister for regional cooperation said those responsible for the attack will be brought to book and even banned from the SPLA.

“On Friday, there was an attack on a place called Doleib Hill, 12 miles south of Malakal, and the attack was on the SPLA military base.  Honestly, we do not know why they attacked that location.  The information we are getting is that they are supporters of one SPLA officer, George Athor, who contested for the position of the governor of Jonglei State, and, of course, he could not make it,” he said.

Athor, who denied he carried out the attack, told Reuters news agency the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) harassed his supporters and rigged the elections.

Ajak said no election defeat should justify the killing of innocent people.

“I think there were three people who contested for the governor of Jonglei State, and of course if we are to go by the elections, Kuol Manyang (incumbent Jonglei governor) won the election and the rest should abide by the decision of the electoral commission.  I really don’t think that somebody will pick up arms and fight because he didn’t win an election,” Ajak said.

He said Athor’s reported demand for Jonglei state incumbent governor Kuol Manyang to step down is a waste of time.

“To be very honest with you, as a minister for regional cooperation, I really think that those who are responsible for the attack at Doleib Hill the SPLA should keep them banned and of course we will bring them to book.  As for the governor to step down, I think this is too far.  The governor has been elected and the results had been announced, and if he (Athor) has any case against the governor he must go to the courts,” he said.

Ajak rejected any suggestion that the dispute with Athor signals a split in the ranks of the SPLM, south Sudan’s dominant party.

“I think the SPLM is very much united and very strong and solid, and we are, of course, celebrating the victory that has been won by the SPLM.  We hope we will take the people of south Sudan to the end of the interim period, which is 6 or 7 months left for the referendum,” Ajak said.

He said Athor is welcome to come before south Sudan authorities to defend himself against the allegations he carried out the attack on the military base.

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