South Sudan has accused Sudan of supporting rebels inside Jonglei state. Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told reporters in Juba that his government has received intelligence reports within the past few weeks indicating that Sudan has been air dropping weapons to a militia group opposed to South Sudan's government.
The allegation comes at a time when the leaders of both countries are meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to wrap up talks on outstanding issues such as security and border dispute, not resolved in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday in Juba, Marial claimed Khartoum dropped weapons inside South Sudanese air space to rebel leader David YauYau and his troops. He said Khartoum’s military actions will not discourage South Sudan's negotiating team from making progress at the talks in Ethiopia.
“It will not stop us from continuing the negotiations in Addis," Marial said. "Our President [Salva Kiir] until this morning [was] still talking with President [Omar Al] Bashir to try and resolve the last issues on some of the items on the agenda.”
The two countries' negotiators have disagreed over matters of security, citizenship, and other outstanding issues from the aforementioned agreement signed between the National Congress Party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. Khartoum and Juba have discussed a proposed agreement on oil transfer fees South Sudan will pay to export its oil through Sudan’s pipelines.
Presidents Salva Kiir Mayardit and Omar Al Bashir were expected to sign a final deal last Sunday, but no progress reports have been made available since early Tuesday.
Marial asserted that Khartoum made the airdrops over Jonglei state on Saturday, just hours before the start of the presidential summit in Addis Ababa.
“We noticed that Sudan helicopters were seen in Pibor County that is near Likuangole, where they were dropping some parachutes of ammunition and weapons to the militia groups led by David YauYau," Marial said.
The South Sudanese official said he found it surprising that Sudan would engage in such activity at this point.
"We are seriously engaged in trying to resolve issues in Addis Ababa [and] at the same time, they continue to arm militia to cause instability,” Marial said.
Sudan has denied the accusation, but members of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan said they describe as a white, fixed wing aircraft fly three kilometers west of Likuongole payam, but said that they could not confirm the contents of the aircraft.
South Sudan has previously accused Khartoum of supporting rebel groups in Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei states, a claim Sudan has repeatedly denied. Marial said his government will raise the issue of Khartoum’s alleged support of the militia groups at the United Nations.
“Our option is that we will protest to the Security Council that the Republic of Sudan is dropping both ammunition and weapons in Pibor County in support of the militia in that area, and this contradicts the spirit of the territorial integrity of [South Sudan] because they are not allowed to fly into our territory without permission,” Marial said.
There were reports that YauYau’s militia resurfaced in Jonglei this summer. According to South Sudan account, rebel troops ambushed SPLA soldiers on August 23rd, killing at least 24 members of the South Sudanese Army.
Listen to Mugume Davis Rwakarigi's report on South Sudan accusing Sudan of aiding rebels