SUDAN WATCH: South Sudan: April 30 attack on SPLM/A military base in Malakal, Upper Nile state

Saturday, May 01, 2010

South Sudan: April 30 attack on SPLM/A military base in Malakal, Upper Nile state

UPDATE - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - BREAKING NEWS: Malakal, Upper Nile - S. Sudan govt will not take any military actions against George Athor - GREAT NEWS just in from SRS (Sudan Radio Service) via email: Today, Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) spokesman, Paul Mayom Akech told SRS that his government will not use force against George Athor or any of his followers. High level GoSS officials are in consultation with Mr Athor in order to resolve the issue amicably and peacefully.
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FULL STORY - Tuesday, May 04, 2010 - South Sudan, Malakal, Upper Nile State: GoSS to dialogue with armed SPLM/A defector George Athor Deng
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Saturday, May 01, 2010
South Sudan: April 30 attack on SPLM/A military base in Malakal, Upper Nile state


ACCORDING to a report published today at Sudan Tribune, southern Sudan officials on Friday (30 April) confirmed that George Athor, who recently contested as independent candidate for governorship of the region’s largest state of Jonglei, was behind yesterday's attack on an army base of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) near the Upper Nile state’s capital, Malakal in semi-independent South Sudan.

In South Sudan, the ex-rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) is the ruling party and political wing of the SPLA. Collectively, they are known as known as Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) or SPLM/A. The SPLM has been criticised for alleged vote manipulation in the country's first elections in 24 years.

The attacked army base is in the town of Delab Hills (aka Doleib or Doleb) area located inside Upper Nile state, not far from Khorfulus, the home town of George Athor, where is he is currently based and situated on the other side of the border in Jonglei state. The base houses soldiers of the SPLM, some of whom are said to have taken part in the attack.

Reportedly, the attackers were trained soldiers and supporters of Mr Athor, an independent candidate who had campaigned against the reigning SPLM party to be governor of the state of Jonglei. Athor denied leading the troops but told the BBC he sympathised with them and said the polls were rigged.

The BBC's James Copnall in Khartoum says there have been intense negotiations for several days to avoid just this sort of problem in Southern Sudan and says it is too early to tell if this is an isolated incident, or the start of a much bigger problem.

Jonglei is one of the 26 states in the south to elect governors and legislators. George Athor ran unsuccessfully against incumbent governor Kuol Manyang Juuk.

Further details here below.

Map - El Fasher, Darfur, W. Sudan

Click here to view a map of Malakal, Upper Nile State, southern Sudan. (Thanks to ReliefWeb)

Quote of the Day
Guys, Can we stop speculating this since it is a sensistive matter and still under "suspicion". Athor is denying it and Dominic Kuol Dim has not come out to tell us what happen and who is behind it. Are we going to war or do we want to apprehend those who carry out this heinous act. The argument here is political insufficient, and I advise that we all wait before we fueled with our rhetoric. "KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN AMD KEEP WATCHING EM".
- Maruon Ayiei, 1 May 2010
Source: Comment by Maruon Ayiei posted at Sudan Tribune on 1 May 2010 in response to the following article:

Defeated candidate launches destructive attack on South Sudan army in Jonglei
From Sudan Tribune, Saturday 1 May 2010:
April 30, 2010 (JUBA) – A defeated candidate and former Lt. General and Deputy Chief of General Staff for Moral Orientation in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), has launched a deadly assault on the army’s military barrack of Doleib Hills area near the Upper Nile state’s capital, Malakal.

Southern Sudan officials on Friday confirmed that General George Athor, who recently contested as independent candidate for governorship of the region’s largest state of Jonglei, was behind the attack.

The SPLA’s Head of Information and Public Relations, Colonel Malaak Ayuel Ajok, on Friday in a televised statement on Southern Sudan TV announced that the surprise attack occurred at around 1:30AM in the early morning of Friday.

Col. Malaak said many of the attackers were killed and five of them captured. He said the captured soldiers confessed that they were ordered by General George Athor to carry out the attack.

He said hundreds of soldiers loyal to General George Athor involved in the operation.

The defeated Gen. Athor denied ordering any attack. He told Reuters that soldiers in Doleib military barrack had mutinied after receiving orders to arrest him.

Col. Malaak said Gen. George Athor got angry after he was declared the loser in the Jonglei state’s gubernatorial elections. The independent candidate said he won the elections but the results were later on rigged in favor of Kuol Manyang Juuk, the incumbent governor and declared winner in Jonglei state’s gubernatorial election.

The first elected governor of South Sudan’s vast-populous Jonglei, the incumbent Gov. Kuol Manyang scored 165,387 votes. George Athor Deng (Independent) comes second with 67,639 votes as Joseph Duer Jakor (NCP) trails with 16,704 votes.

Senior government officials also confirmed the clashes, saying the cabinet for the semi-autonomous region was briefed on Friday by the minister of Internal Affairs, General Gier Chuang Aluong, about the developing situation.

Also, Jonglei elected Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk, held a closed door meeting with SPLA senior officers but there was no public statement.

The number of casualties was not yet confirmed as officials said more details were still emerging, but according to the security chief, among the dead SPLA soldiers included many SPLA officers in addition to a number of civilians who were caught in cross fire.

Military depots were also looted by the attacking force and among the weapons they captured included a number of anti-tanks and 12.7 artillery.

Eye witnesses in Malakal town said about six vehicles were packed with the wounded and taken to Malakal Hospital.

General George Athor, who confirmed the incidence, however told the BBC that he was not directly involved in the incidence, saying it was an internal mutiny within the SPLA forces.

He however added that it was an action against the “corrupt SPLM” system, saying he was sympathizing with the soldiers who carried out the attack.

The attacked military barrack is located inside Upper Nile state, not far from Khorfulus, the home town of General Athor, where is he is currently based and situated on the other side of the border in Jonglei state.

Officials suspected that General Athor was planning heavy attacks inside targeted locations within Jonglei state and that his initial attack on the barrack across the border in Upper Nile state was to snatch the weapons and ammunitions for use in his planned activities in Jonglei state.

Officials quoted General Gier Chuang as saying that General Athor has already coordinated his activities with other SPLA elements including in the Southern Sudan’s capital, Juba, and that he has about seven Brigadier Generals and several Colonels on his side.

General George Athor lost to the incumbent Jonglei state governor, Kuol Manyang Juuk, according to the declared results by the National Elections Commission (NEC) but earlier warned that he won the elections and the ruling SPLM party latter on rigged it in favor of Kuol Manyang.

Jonglei state is the largest state in Southern Sudan inhabited by about five different ethnic groups which population is pre-dominantly of the Nuer ethnic group. Both General George Athor and his rival, Kuol Manyang, are from the Dinka tribe, the largest ethnic group in Southern Sudan.

Officials said the government would take measures to control the situation before it gets out of control.

Col. Malaak Ayuel in his televised statement on behalf of the SPLA Chief of General Staff, Lt. General James Hoth Mai, warned General George Athor to stop attacking the SPLA forces, saying the army was capable of responding to the situation with full force. (ST)
BREAKING NEWS: discontented SPLA forces attack army barrack
From Sudan Tribune, Friday 30 April 2010:
April 30, 2010 (JUBA) – News reaching Juba have confirmed a military attack on SPLA barrack by suspected discontented army elements said to be under the command of an independent gubernatorial candidate who recently lost elections in the largest southern Sudan state.

The SPLA barrack at Doleib was attacked yesterday evening by forces that are suspected to be under the command of Major General George Athor, who recently lost against the incumbent governor, Kuol Manyang Juuk in Jonglei state.

A number of people are reported killed and wounded while four people from the attackers were captured and reportedly confessed that they were under the directive of Gen. Athor.

According to security sources, the attack occurred when the discontented forces surrounded the barrack and tried to break into arms and ammunition store in the barrack.

It was not clear why the forces wanted to take the arms, but sources were suspicious that they were planning for more attacks on other locations.

Maj. Gen. George Athor, the suspected leader behind the attacks, is currently based in his home town of Khorfulus, which is not very far from where the attacks were carried out across the border with Upper Nile state. (ST)
Sudan: Base Attacked in South
From The New York Times by REUTERS, Friday 30 April 2010 [Note from Sudan Watch Editor: The base referred to in the following report by Reuters, reprinted in the NYT, is located in Upper Nile State, not Jonglei State]:
South Sudan’s army said that armed men attacked one of its bases in Jonglei State on Friday, killing at least eight soldiers. A spokesman for the south’s army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, said it had captured five of the attackers, who said they were working under orders of Gen. George Athor, a defeated candidate for governor of Jonglei, an oil-producing region. General Athor, a senior officer in the south’s army, denied involvement in the attack, saying soldiers in the base had mutinied after receiving orders to arrest him.
Mutinous troops attack south Sudan army near Malakal
From BBC News at 5:16 GMT, Friday, 30 April 2010 16:16 UK - excerpt:
At least eight people have been killed when mutinous troops attacked an army base in south Sudan following this month's elections, officials say.

A southern army spokesman said the mutineers backed a former general who ran and lost in a Jonglei state poll.

George Athor denied leading the troops but told the BBC he sympathised with them and said the polls were rigged.

The ex-rebel SPLM party won a landslide victory to retain power in the south, amid widespread claims of intimidation.

The 11-15 April elections were the first in 24 years - and the first since the end of a two-decade conflict between north and south.

The BBC's James Copnall in Khartoum says there have been intense negotiations for several days to avoid just this sort of problem in Southern Sudan.

Several senior southern soldiers contested the elections as independents and all but one lost.

Mr Athor ran for governor of Jonglei state as an independent when he did not get the SPLM nomination.

'Weapons stolen'

The Delab Hill barracks, 12km (7 miles) south of Malakal, were attacked.

The army spokesman said weapons were stolen.

"We managed to push back the attackers, but there are seven dead and nine injured among the troops," southern army spokesman Malaak Ayuen Ajok told AFP.

"Several attackers also lost their lives."

Malakal was the scene of fierce fighting between rival militias in 2009, and in 2006, which left at least 150 people dead.

Our correspondent says it is too early to tell if this is an isolated incident, or the start of a much bigger problem.

He says the voting process itself was largely peaceful, but tensions rose, particularly in the south, as accusations of electoral fraud began to multiply.
From Earthtimes (press release) Friday, 30 Apr 2010 16:57:42 GMT
By dpa Nairobi/Juba, Sudan:
Violence in the wake of Sudanese elections earlier this month has left at least eight people dead in the southern Sudanese city of Malakal, the Sudan Tribune reported Friday.

The newspaper said that armed militants attacked the barracks of the South Sudanese Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).

The attackers were trained soldiers and supporters of an independent candidate who had campaigned against the reigning SPLM party to be governor of the state of Jonglei.

The SPLM is the political wing of the SPLA and was criticized for alleged vote manipulation in the country's first elections in 24 years.

The SPLM won the bulk of the votes in semi-independent Southern Sudan, which is expected to vote to secede from Sudan in a 2011 referendum.
Soldiers Loyal to Failed Gubernatorial Candidate Attack Army Barracks in Southern Sudan
From Voice of America - Friday, 30 April 2010 c. 7pm GMT UK [Note from Sudan Watch Editor: The army barracks referred to in the following report by VOA News are located in Upper Nile State, not Jonglei State] - excerpt:
An official in South Sudan has confirmed an attack this morning on an army barracks in Jongolei State. Reports say that as many as eight people were killed in the attack, believed to have been led by supporters of Major General George Athor, an independent candidate for governor in last week’s elections.

The barracks, located in the town of Doleb, houses soldiers of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, some of whom are said to have taken part in the attack. [...]

Jongolei is one of the 26 states in the south to elect governors and legislators. General Athor ran unsuccessfully as an independent candidate against incumbent governor Kuol Manyang Juuk. Mustafa Biong Majak, an official with the Government of South Sudan, said causalities were taken to the Upper Nile State’s Malakal hospital for treatment.

“Those who did it ran away,” he said, “and the security forces are running after them.” He says later today, an SPLM spokesman will make a detailed statement on the incident.

Listen to Biong Majak discuss the attack:

Sources of the Sudan Tribune say the assault was authorized by General Athor, who lives in the nearby town of Khorfulus in Upper Nile state. Reuters news agency says Athor has denied any involvement.

SPLM candidate and incumbent president of the south Salvia Kiir was re-elected with over 90 percent of the vote. His rival Lam Akol of the splinter group SPLM-DC has accused his party of harassment and intimidation. He rejects the election results and says he plans to take the matter to court for adjudication. South Sudan is gearing for a referendum early next year that will decide if they secede from the north.
South Sudan army accuses poll candidate of attack
From Reuters by Skye Wheeler Friday 30 April 2010 12:09pm EDT
(Writing by Andrew Heavens; Editing by Maria Golovnina) - excerpt:
(JUBA, Sudan) - South Sudan's army accused a defeated election candidate of ordering an attack on one of its bases that killed at least eight soldiers Friday, stoking tensions days after the contested poll.

George Athor, defeated in the race to become governor of the south's oil-producing Jonglei state, denied ordering any attack, telling Reuters soldiers in the base had mutinied after receiving orders to arrest him.

Any confirmed involvement in the attack by Athor, who is also a senior officer in the south's army, would be a serious escalation in violence in the region, already hit by drought and clashes between heavily armed tribal groups. [...]

Athor and other independent candidates accused the south's dominant party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), of harassing their supporters and rigging the vote.

The south's Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) said that armed men attacked the southern army base in Jonglei's Doleib Hill area, close to state capital Malakal, early Friday.

"We have full evidence the force was ordered by General George Athor," acting SPLA spokesman Malaak Ayuen told Reuters.

"He contested as a governor in Jonglei but lost," Ayuen said, adding that the intention behind the attack was unclear. "It was very surprising ... (We think) he became angry and is trying to create insecurity."

Ayuen said the army had captured five of the attackers who said they were working under Athor's orders.

Athor decided to run as an independent after failing to get the SPLM nomination. Speaking by satellite telephone from Jonglei, he denied having any forces in the area.

"They wanted to send a force to capture me but they refused to do this and now they were trying to arrest those officers who refused to go and attack me and so there was a mutiny," he said.

Athor said he did not know why they would want to arrest him. "You should ask Salva Kiir," he said, referring to the president of the semi-autonomous south. [...]
Further reading
Click on Matip, Jarch, Heilberg, labels here below to view some eye opening reports in Sudan Watch archives, including the following reports:

Sudan Watch - April 16, 2009: Ex Wall St banker Philippe Heilberg - US Jarch mulling more land leases in S. Sudan

Sudan Watch - October 19, 2009: South Sudan: UN airlifts Paulino Matip’s forces to Juba

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