South Sudan: UN airlifts Paulino Matip’s forces to Juba
From Sudan Tribune by James Gatdet Dak, Monday, 19 October 2009:
UN airlifts General Matip’s forces to Juba
October 18, 2009 (JUBA) – The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has begun airlifting hundreds of guards of General Paulino Matip to the Southern Sudan capital, Juba, from Bentiu, the state capital of the oil rich Unity state.Click into original article to view 64+ comments. Click on Matip label here below for related reports.
About three hundred troops were expected to have arrived in Juba over the weekend through the UN air operation which began on Saturday.
Last week, forces guarding the Bentiu residence of the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the SPLA forces, Lt. General Paulino Matip Nhial clashed with another unit of the Sudan people’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in the town, leaving more than ten people dead, mostly soldiers.
The SPLA General Headquarters in Juba described the incident as a purely army affair and had nothing to do with politics.
Southern Sudan Vice President Dr. Riek Machar said the fighting erupted when the house of General Matip was attacked by heavily armed soldiers during which even tanks were used in the attack.
Authorities have been investigating the incident to establish its cause. However, in a public letter attributed to him and addressed to the international community, Gen. Paulino Matip accused the SPLA and its Commander-in-Chief, Salva Kiir Mayardit of plotting against him.
He stated that the attack against his guards was coordinated in conjunction with the state governor at the highest level of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Speaking from Bentiu, Governor Taban Deng Gai said there was no intention and there will never be bad intention to plan an action against General Matip because there is no reason that warrants such ill act against a member of the same government.
Machar said the removal of the forces from Bentiu was done with the consent of General Paulino Matip in order to defuse any further tension in the town that might arise because of their vicinity and probable contacts with the other unit.
He commended the positive attitude Gen. Matip has maintained by ordering his guards in the town not to retaliate and by not overreacting negatively to the incident.
He added that the Deputy Commander-in-Chief who is currently sick in Juba is ready to discuss and resolve the matter with his Commander-in-Chief after he recovers his health.
Former forces of General Matip, which officially fell under the description of Other Armed Groups (OAGs), in accordance with the 2005 North-South peace deal, joined with the SPLA in the Juba Declaration on unity of the ranks and file in 2006.
Matip was named Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the army and more than 50,000 of his forces were integrated into the SPLA and other organized forces.
However, some of his forces were reserved to continue under his direct command to provide for his security.
In a press conference he conducted shortly after the Bentiu incident, the President of the Government of Southern Sudan and Commander-in-Chief of the SPLA, Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit said he allowed Gen. Paulino Matip to maintain a number of forces to guard his homes in the region for the purposes of building confidence after the Juba Declaration.
Gen. Matip already has several hundreds of guards at his residence inside Juba and in the outskirts of the town.
The government is currently planning to train and establish a special presidential guards unit in order to centralize providing security for the collective senior leadership.