SUDAN WATCH: South Sudan, Malakal, Upper Nile State: GoSS to dialogue with armed SPLM/A defector George Athor Deng

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

South Sudan, Malakal, Upper Nile State: GoSS to dialogue with armed SPLM/A defector George Athor Deng

UPDATE on 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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Tuesday, May 04, 2010
South Sudan, Malakal, Upper Nile State: GoSS to dialogue with armed SPLM/A defector George Athor Deng

FURTHER to last Friday's digest here at Sudan Watch regarding shocking news of a deadly attack on the SPLA's military base in Malakal, South Sudan, officials from the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) have confirmed that the base in Delab (aka Doleib) Hill in Upper Nile state, near the border of Jonglei state, in semi-independent South Sudan was attacked on Thursday (29 April)/Friday (30 April) at around 1 a.m. in the morning apparently by one of their own.

Reportedly (details are sketchy and vary from report to report) twelve SPLA soldiers were killed in that fight; five civilians were wounded and three were killed; on the attackers side, five were arrested and one was killed. Weapons were stolen: anti-aircraft weapons, three anti-tank guns and some machine-guns.

George Athor, a former SPLA army general who stood and lost as an independent candidate in last month's elections, said soldiers in the base had mutinied after receiving orders to arrest him.

Yesterday (Monday, 3 May) Mr Athor told Reuters he had taken command of a body of soldiers and demanded the removal of the man who beat him in the elections, Jonglei State's incumbent SPLM governor Kuol Manyang who kept his seat. Athor said he had no ambition to take Manyang's place but just wanted him removed:
"I need Governor Kuol to be removed from his position," Athor told Reuters on Monday.
Several news sources, including Reuters and Sudan Tribune, reported that the SPLA had accused Mr Athor of masterminding the deadly attack and of plotting further assaults in retaliation for his loss in the elections:
"We have full evidence the force was ordered by General George Athor," acting SPLA spokesman Malaak Ayuen told Reuters on Friday (30 April).
Athor denied leading Friday's attack and told Reuters on Monday he had moved to a location near the border of Jonglei and neighboring Upper Nile state with a number of soldiers. He would not say how many men he commanded and denied the accusations against him:
"I did not order any attack anywhere and I had never held any meeting with anybody to consider launching attack on military forces," Athor told Sudan Tribune last week by a satellite (Thuraya) phone in his ancestral village of Rut.
Also, according to Sudan Tribune on Saturday (May 1), Athor in his own words disclosed that a fight in his name had occurred:
"Yes people fought in my name and I did not expect it to happen," he said explaining what actually happened was that a commanding officer with the rank of Major at Doleib has received a message from Juba instructing him to send a force to my house so that all my guards and I are disarmed by force," he said.

"This officer considering my rank in the army declined to come himself with the force as per instructions but decided to send a captain who also refused immediately. The officer refused and so did the soldiers who were being selected to come with him," he continued to explain.

The refusal of the captain resulted into a quarrel between them, and all elements loyal to the two officers started to take positions based on ethnicities, he said adding they communicated their differences over him to Juba and were again told to execute the order by any means. But this could not work because they had already taken positions and started shooting themselves.

The retreated SPLA general said the fighting occurred on Thursday evening and he had not aware.
On Monday, speaking to Reuters by satellite phone, Mr Athor declined to give details of his immediate plans but warned he would respond to any provocation from the south's SPLA:
"If I am provoked I can attack anywhere ... I have enough forces that can capture Malakal (the capital of Upper Nile state), Bor (the capital of Jonglei state) or anywhere."
Athor, a member of the large Dinka tribe, said he had a number of demands which he hoped to achieve through negotiation:
"And the forces that have joined me are to be given amnesty and to return to their units without punishment," he added.
The southern army played down Mr Athor's warnings, saying he did not have a large enough force to mount large-scale attacks. Southern army spokesman Malaak Ayuen said the latest intelligence suggested Athor was on the move, heading south:
"I don't think he will attack a big town but he will try to destabilize communities ... Now SPLA forces are very much aware and they are prepared to face him."
Today (Tuesday, 3 May) Voice of America News online reported that 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.

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.

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.
Minister of Interior, Gair Shwan underscored the keenness of GoSS to reach a peaceful reconciliation in the area. He told reporters that his government was endeavoring to calm the situation. See report here below from Sudan Vision Daily entitled "Kiir Dissolves Parliament, GoSS to Dialogue with SPLM Defector".

Sources: reports below.

Another veteran senior army officer joins Independent candidate Gen. Athor
From Sudan Tribune - Monday, 3 May 2010:
May 3, 2010 (JUBA) – A veteran senior officer in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) is reported to have joined the former army deputy chief of staff who has carried out deadly attack against the SPLA forces.

Brig. General John Jok Gai has reportedly joined Gen. George Athor Deng, who turned violent after losing the Jonglei state’s gubernatorial race to the incumbent governor, Kuol Manyang Juuk.

Brig. Gen. John Jok was a popular army officer during the formation of the SPLM/A in 1983 in Itang, Ethiopia, and was the officer in charge of the police stations in the residential area which accommodated most of the SPLM/A senior officers in 1980s.

He is the first Brig. General to be named after the Government of Southern Sudan’s statements suspecting about seven Brig. Generals who have sided with Gen. George Athor.

Other generals are suspected to be mostly from Gen. Athor’s home area and have a coordination in many areas in Jonglei state. Brig. Gen. John Jok was recently deployed in Wau, Western Bahr el-Ghazal as deputy in charge of the police force in the state.

He was also the former Commissioner of Nyirol County of Jonglei state and was removed by a presidential decree two years ago. His family members told Sudan Tribune that they have confirmed that he is no where to be known. He has since two weeks ago cut off his phone lines.

Wild spread rumors in Bor town talk of Gen. George Athor warning the town residents to leave the town until May 8 dateline, or face the consequences of his imminent attacks.

He is also reported to have recruited former SPLA unconfirmed officers and foot soldiers on his side and already promoted some of them.

Gen. Athor possesses a number of pick up trucks and ammunition depots, according to security sources, who said the number of his forces could have now reached about nearly a thousand.

His exact location is not known as of now since his withdrawal from his home town, Khorfulus. Military analysts say his recent denial on phones about his innocent on the Doleib attacks was just a maneuvering tactic. (ST)
Defeated Sudan candidate says armed, makes demands
From Reuters by Skye Wheeler in JUBA, Sudan (Editing by Andrew Heavens)
Monday, 3 May 2010; 2:23pm EDT:
A renegade army general in South Sudan said on Monday he had taken command of a body of soldiers and demanded the removal of the man who beat him in recent elections.

South Sudan's army accused George Athor of masterminding an attack on one of its bases on Friday and plotting further assaults after he lost in the race to become governor of the oil-producing south's Jonglei state last week.

The confirmation that Athor set up his own military force days after the contested vote will stoke tensions in the region already hit by tribal violence and decades of civil war.

Athor denied leading Friday's attack, but told Reuters on Monday he had moved to a location near the border of Jonglei and neighboring Upper Nile state with a number of soldiers. He would not say how many men he commanded.

Speaking by satellite phone, Athor declined to give details of his immediate plans but warned he would respond to any provocation from the south's Sudan People's Liberation Army.

"If I am provoked I can attack anywhere ... I have enough forces that can capture Malakal (the capital of Upper Nile state), Bor (the capital of Jonglei state) or anywhere."

DEMANDS

Sudan last week wrapped up elections that were seen as a test of democracy in Africa's largest country, particularly in its south which is preparing for a referendum in January 2011 on whether to declare independence from the north.

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.

Athor, a member of the large Dinka tribe, said he had a number of demands which he hoped to achieve through negotiation.

"I need Governor Kuol to be removed from his position," said Athor, referring to Jonglei's incumbent SPLM governor Kuol Manyang who kept his seat in the elections. Athor said he had no ambition to take Manyang's place but just wanted him removed.

"And the forces that have joined me are to be given amnesty and to return to their units without punishment," he added.

The southern army played down Athor's warnings, saying he did not have a large enough force to mount large-scale attacks.

Southern army spokesman Malaak Ayuen said the latest intelligence suggested Athor was on the move, heading south.

"I don't think he will attack a big town but he will try to destabilize communities ... Now SPLA forces are very much aware and they are prepared to face him."

An international source in Juba, who asked not to be named, said Friday's attack was a worrying development. "The fact that arms were reportedly stolen is worrisome for the future security of the area. Clearly there is a danger."

The southern army said at least eight people died in the attack on its base in Doleib Hill, near the border of Jonglei and Upper Nile on Friday. Athor said soldiers in the base had mutinied after receiving orders to arrest him.
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
From Voice of America (VOA) News - Tuesday, 4 May 2010
By James Butty (Washington, D.C.):
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.

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.
SPLA general demands sacking of Jonglei governor
From Sudan Tribune - Tuesday, 4 May 2010:
3 May 2010 (KHARTOUM) - General George Athor at the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) announced today that he had pulled together a group of soldiers under his leadership and demanded that the governor of Jonglei who won the recent elections be removed.

"I need Governor Kuol to be removed from his position," Athor told Reuters, referring to Jonglei’s incumbent SPLM governor Kuol Manyang who kept his seat in the elections. He said that he had no ambition to take Manyang’s place but just wanted him removed.

Athor ran against Manyang in the south’s oil-producing Jonglei state but lost by a wide margin. Kuol Manyang (SPLM) obtained 165,387 of valid votes (66.2%). George Athor Deng (Independent) comes second with 67,639 votes (27.1%).

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 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 SPLA had accused Athor of masterminding an attack on one of its bases last Friday and plotting further assaults in retaliation to his loss in the elections. However, the senior military officer denied claims leveled against him.

"I did not order any attack anywhere and I had never held any meeting with anybody to consider launching attack on military forces," General Athor told Sudan Tribune last week from his ancestral village of Rut.

Jonglei, south Sudan’s vast-populous state, suffered tribal conflicts in 2009 with death toll reaching 2,000. The electoral campaigns and polls were peaceful but tension rose after the announcement of results that were won by the southern Sudan ruling party; the SPLM.

Today Athor declined to give Reuters details of his immediate plans but warned he would respond to any provocation from the SPLA.

"If I am provoked I can attack anywhere ... I have enough forces that can capture Malakal (the capital of Upper Nile state), Bor (the capital of Jonglei state) or anywhere."

Athor, a member of the large Dinka tribe, said he had a number of demands which he hoped to achieve through negotiation.

"And the forces that have joined me are to be given amnesty and to return to their units without punishment," he added.

The southern army played down Athor’s warnings, saying he did not have a large enough force to mount large-scale attacks.

Southern army spokesman Malaak Ayuen said the latest intelligence suggested Athor was on the move, heading south.

"I don’t think he will attack a big town but he will try to destabilize communities ... Now SPLA forces are very much aware and they are prepared to face him.
Kiir Dissolves Parliament, GoSS to Dialogue with SPLM Defector
From Sudan Vision Daily - Monday, 3 May 2010 by Staff Writer:
FVP, President of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS), Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit decreed last Sunday, dissolution of South Sudan Central as well as state-level parliaments.

GoSS Minister of Information Paul Miyom Akeij, reported that the resolution had come on the heels of the recent election of MPs for the central and the 10 state-level parliaments.

Meanwhile, GoSS Security Council resolved conduction of dialogue with the Lt. Gen George Athor whose militias assaulted some military sites in Jonglei State last Friday dawn.

Minister of Interior, Gair Shwan underscored the keenness of South Sudan government to reach a peaceful reconciliation in the area. He told reporters that his government was endeavoring to calm the situations in the region far from any military escalation in order to save lives and property. He expressed hope that all parties would positively respond to dialogue describing the situation in Jonglei as under control.

SPLA did accuse some militants of attacking the base of Doleep Hill, near Malakal, killing 12 and injuring 20 people. He said the militants were operating in favor of a particular elections-loser candidate.

SPLA Spokesperson, Col. Malak Aiwein, accused supporters of SPLM-DC Chairman, Lam Akol of backing up the aggression effected by the followers of the Independent candidate, George Athor who was contesting the seat of the Upper Nile State Governor.
From SRS (Sudan Radio Service) - Monday, 3 May 2010:
May 3, 2010 (JUBA) – The caretaker Goss Minister for Internal Affairs, Gier Chuang, has confirmed the attack launched against an SPLA barracks by mutinous troops at the Delab Hill barracks on Thursday.

The attackers are believed to be under the command of former SPLA general, George Athor who stood for election and lost the Jonglei gubernatorial seat to Kuol Manyang.

Addressing reporters in Juba on Saturday, Gier Chuang said 12 soldiers were killed during the attack.

[Gier Chuang]: “On 29th, at around 1 a.m. in the morning a group from the barracks around the headquarters came and attacked the SPLA headquarters, Delab Hill barracks. They exchanged fire with the soldiers who were in the headquarters. Twelve SPLA soldiers were killed in that fight and among them five officers: three captains, one first lieutenant, one second lieutenant and seven soldiers. Five civilians were wounded and three were killed. On the attackers’ side, five were arrested and one was killed. On the 30th, it was confirmed that they came from the barracks of Lieutenant-general George Athor Deng in Korfulus, and it was confirmed yesterday that they sneaked into the stores and took anti-aircraft weapons and three anti-tank guns and some machine-guns and they went back to Korfulus to join George Athor.”

Chuang went on to explain the possible reasons for the attack.

[Gier Chuang]: “Yesterday, Athor told the BBC in a statement that he took that action because had contested the elections and won the governorship of Jonglei state but the election was rigged and that’s how he lost. That is what he claims.Therefore we in the government and in SPLM want to say that there was no rigging, because the difference between him and Kuol Deim is very big. It is not close to rigging nor is it close to anything. The reason is simple - there are people who do not believe the truth - they want things to be done their way.”

Gier Chuang was speaking to reporters in Juba on Saturday.
Jonglei governor-elect calls for calm as opponent hides
From Sudan Tribune - Sunday, 2 May 2010: [*Note from Sudan Watch Editor: A reader's comment posted at Sudan Tribune in reply to the following article says the spelling of the NCP candidate's last name is Jakok, not Jakor]:
May 1, 2010 (BOR) – Kuol Manyang Juuk, the caretaker governor of Jonglei State who won April polls, today called for calm as defeated independent gubernatorial candidate George Athor Deng, accused of attacking a military base in neighboring Upper Nile State on Friday, spend a second day out of sight.

PHOTO: This photo shows SPLM’s Kuol Manyang Juuk campaigning in Pam, Fangak HQs on March 11, 2010 flanked by South Sudan internal Minister Gier Chuang (L) and Sudan State minister fof Water and irrigation James Kok Ruea (R). Both Ministers are candidates in April elections (ST)

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Mr. Kuol says the situation is under control and security measures have been taken to avert extension of atrocities to Jonglei territory.

"I ask the people of Jonglei to remain calm and avoid listening to rumors over phones," said Kuol Manyang Juuk, the Jonglei governor-elect. He also refutes claim that the Doleipin Hill attack, by civilians loyal to Mr. Athor in Upper Nile State, is affiliated to April polls.

Doleipin Hill, a military barrack for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) was attacked early on Friday by armed gunmen. Seven people died and 25 others wounded including SPLA soldiers and civilians.

Five attackers are captured and allegedly confessed that their actions were coordinated by defeated independent candidate for Jonglei governorship, George Athor Deng. Mr. Athor is reportedly discontented with election outcome that declared Kuol Manyang as the winner with vote difference of nearly 100,000.

Jonglei, south Sudan’s vast-populous state, suffered tribal conflicts in 2009 with death toll reaching 2,000. The electoral campaigns and polls were peaceful but tension rose after the announcement of results that were won by the southern Sudan ruling party; the SPLM.

Kuol Manyang (SPLM) obtained 165,387 of valid votes (66.2%). George Athor Deng (Independent) comes second with 67,639 votes (27.1%) as Joseph Duer Jakor* (NCP) trails with 16,704 votes (6.7%).

The NCP gubernatorial contender in Jonglei State Joseph Duer Jakor* phoned and congratulated SPLM’s victory, Mr. Kuol revealed today saying "I should have done the same [congratulate a winner] if I lost".

Asked to comment on the hypothesized voting rigging to secure victory in last month’s election, Mr. Kuol said: "The National Election Commission (NEC) is not under my command and if Athor has complaint he should open his case against NEC".

Athor could not be reached for reaction but he told the BBC on Friday that he never took part in the attack and blamed SPLA internal dispute on his alleged arrest.

GOOD MAN ERASING GOOD HISTORY

Looking back at records, the main rival in the race to Jonglei governorship, Kuol Manyang described Athor Deng as a "good man" who contributed tremendously during the war of liberation.

Speaking in a combative mood, Kuol says he is "sad" that George Athor is "erasing a history of good contribution" particularly when he resisted and 1991 Nassir defectors had been in his hometown of Khorfulus. For Goerge Athor great work, Kuol recalls, forces opposing SPLA/M’s course to liberation of the Sudan’s marginalized people were defeated.

Calling on George Athor to reconsider the objectives of SPLA/M since its inception in 1983 of peace, freedom and prosperity, Kuol says it is vital to halt oppressive assaults on civilians and allow peace a chance "so that we prepare our people for referendum".

Since the Friday attack in Upper Nile territory, Mr. George Athor’s whereabouts is unknown.

The fear among the public is how swiftly the Government of South Sudan will respond to the security threat mobility will be overshadowed by the rainy season that just began. Khorfulus in Pigi County, where George stays before the attack, lacks roads. (ST)
General Dau tells General Athor to leave his ancestral village for Juba
From Sudan Tribune - Monday, 3 May 2010 by Ngor Arol Garang - excerpt:
May 2, 2010 (WUNROK) - The former Independent candidate Major General Dau Aturjong Nyuol, whose elections results in the southern state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, were announced against his favor, has on Sunday asked his comrade at arms, Lieutenant General George Athor Deng, to consider leaving his ancestral village of Rut for either Juba or elsewhere.

Both Athor and Dau are long known friends at arms and had also contested recently concluded polls independently after failing to secure endorsement of their candidatures by political bureau of the southern ruling party, the SPLM. All of them contested against SPLM official nominees in their respective states of Jonglei and Northern Bahr el Ghazal. [...]

Considering their personal relationship, General Dau Aturjong in an interview with Sudan Tribune on Sunday said he think that George Athor has to leave his village to stop allegations of his involvement in the attack.

"I think it is better for General Athor to leave (to Juba) so that claims about his involvement in the attack due to his presence in the area cease immediately," General Dau said. "His presence in the area is being misused. I suggest him to leave for the moment regardless of family and relatives matters he would like to attend. He should leave," said General Dau. [...]
General Athor distances himself from attack on SPLA barrack
From Sudan Tribune - Sunday, 2 May 2010 by Ngor Arol Garang:
May 1, 2010 (WUNROK) - Lieutenant General George Athor Deng, who contested gubernatorial elections independently, in the state of Jonglei, after failing to secure approval of his candidature by the SPLM political bureau in January, denied having launched any attack on the SPLA barrack and described it as internal clash within the Southern Sudan army.

On Friday 30, April 2010, rumors spreading like wild fire of attack on SPLA post at Doleib Hills area, a contested territory predominantly habitat to both Shilluk and Dinka Luac, dominated cabinet meeting in Juba and majority within the cabinet were quick to point accusing finger and blamed incident onto armed elements allegedly loyal to Lieutenant General George Athor Deng, who had, while serving in the SPLA, held position of deputy Chief of General Staff for Moral Orientation.

Colonel Malaak Ayuel Ajok, who heads SPLA department of Information and Public Relations, stated on Southern Sudan TV that a surprise attack reportedly launched on Friday at around 1:30AM was organized by General Athor.

Col. Malaak, while announcing the attack, without giving detail of the casualties, said many of the attackers were killed and five of them are captured. According to him, the arrested attackers confessed that they had been ordered by General George Athor to carry out the attack on the SPLA military base.

Other senior officials in the government of southern Sudan including minister of internal affairs, General Gier Chuang also confirmed the raid without giving details. Jonglei Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk also held a closed door meeting with SPLA senior officers in Bor town following reports of the clashes.

Captain Garang Wieu from SPLA logistics, who went to Doleib as part of the reinforcement troops, in Malakal town, told Sudan Tribune that five officers and ten soldiers have been killed in the fighting. Two or three officers killed are said be from Awan Chan, home to GOSS president Salva Kiir Mayardit.

However, General Athor, in an interview with Sudan Tribune, on Saturday, from his home village of Rut in Khorfoulus, Jonglei State, said he did not order any attack on SPLA forces.

"I did not order any attack anywhere and I had never held any meeting with anybody to consider launching attack on military forces," General Athor told Sudan Tribune by a satellite (Thuraya) phone in his ancestral village of Rut.

The General who had thrice failed to pick up telephone calls said he was sleeping hence could not response to the first calls. "I was sleeping and this telephone was also outside in the sitting room. It was brought to me just now because it was receiving a lot when I was sleeping. My wife said she received a lot of calls from strange numbers," he explained adding his communications with people are being misinterpreted.

Athor in his own words however disclosed that a fight in his name has occurred.

"Yes people fought in my name and I did not expect it to happen," he said explaining what actually happened was that a commanding officer with the rank of Major at Doleib has received a message from Juba instructing him to send a force to my house so that all my guards and I are disarmed by force," he said.

"This officer considering my rank in the army declined to come himself with the force as per instructions but decided to send a captain who also refused immediately. The officer refused and so did the soldiers who were being selected to come with him," he continued to explain.

The refusal of the captain resulted into a quarrel between them, and all elements loyal to the two officers started to take positions based on ethnicities, he said adding they communicated their differences over him to Juba and were again told to execute the order by any means. But this could not work because they had already taken positions and started shooting themselves.

The retreated SPLA general said the fighting occurred on Thursday evening and he had not aware.

"I only came to know after they had clashed and killed themselves on Friday morning because of the sound of guns and calls from everywhere inquiring my involvement in the attack," he said.

He said that a message allegedly originated from the SPLA general headquarters in Juba with no signature of a specific person as the majority of the troops wanted to know why they were being asked to go and disarm me with the guards.

Asked whether he contacted anybody in Juba, Athor said he received calls while in process to contact those in the authorities.

"I started receiving calls of those I had wanted to contact hence I might not make any call again, he said.

In statements made today in Jonglei, the governor Kuol Manyang said he was uncertain about the implication of his challenger General Athor in Friday fighting, dismissing reports linking Doleib clashes with the results of April elections.

National elections results gave incumbent Gov. Kuol Manyang Juuk 165,387 votes and George Athor Deng who contested as independent candidate with 67,639 votes while Joseph Duer Jakor from the National Congress Party became the last with 16,704 votes. (ST)
South Sudan army accuses poll candidate of attack
From Reuters (via Yahoo News) - Friday, 30 April 2010; 12:09 pm ET
By Skye Wheeler (Writing by Andrew Heavens; Editing by Maria Golovnina) - excerpt:
JUBA, Sudan (Reuters) – 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.

Sudan this week wrapped up elections that were seen as a test of democracy in Africa's largest country, particularly in its south which is preparing for a referendum in January 2011 on whether to declare independence from the north.

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. [...]
From SRS (Sudan Radio Service) via email Monday, 3 May 2010:
April 30, 2010 (PAYINJIAR) - About eleven people have been injured after unknown assailants attacked Doleb Hills in Upper Nile state on Thursday night.

Speaking to SRS on Friday, the Director of Malakal Teaching Hospital, Dr. Tut Gony, said his staff is currently treating the wounded.

[Tut Gony]: “We heard from people that this happened last night, Some said they have been hearing the gunshots throughout the night up to this morning and when I reported to work a wounded woman and her daughter, who was about one year old, were brought to the hospital. We thought that these would be the only wounded so we were not expecting more. But after an hour and half, another group was brought in. Six people were brought in. A woman, a man and four soldiers were wounded badly.”

Dr. Tut Gony was speaking to SRS on Friday in Malakal.
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Copy of two comments at Sudan Tribune article 3 May 2010 entitled "Another veteran senior army officer joins Independent candidate Gen. Athor"

Comment posted on 3 May 2010 by ALCON, SPLA:
"This issue of George Athor has nothing to do with the elections that just took place. George Athor had issues with Kiir regarding Matip’s position in the SPLA. When Paulino Matip forces emerged with the SPLA and Kiir made Matip as his deputy, Athor objected to that. He frankly told Kiir that if you make Matip the deputy commander of the SPLA forces, he never report to Matip nor would he respect him. He stated to Kiir that he was fighting those of Paulino Matip and Gatwech Dual all his live and now Matip would be his boss, that was not acceptable to him. He refused to come to Juba for some months back in late 2005 or early 2006 until Kiir convinced Him not to defect from the the SPLA.

In 2008, he was promoted to Lieutenant General and made as a deputy chief of staffs for moral. Then election came, he was hoping that the SPLM will accept him as its candidate for the governorship in Jonglei but that was not the case. He felt that SPLM/A is being control by former militias who he used to fight during the war.

This issue is all about a position in the government of South Sudan. Athor lost his former position as a deputy chief of staff and he lost his bet for the governorship. Kiir and Athor will settle this dispute by giving Athor a ministerial position in the next government."
Comment posted on 3 May by deng deng:
"southern peace lovers, ask your selves simple question؛ who bankrolled athor for his campaigns? He was dishing out cash during elections like no man’s business and talking crap in malakal radio. Honestly that is not athor we all know, some thing is controlling him. And soon we shall all see what is controlling him eventually".
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Gen. George Athor Deng needs political accommodation
Commentary from The New Sudan Vision (NSV) by James Monyluak Majok (a concerned citizen living in Windsor, Canada) - Tuesday 4 May 2010 - excerpt:
"[...]
Based on this perspective, I am hereby recommending the following:

1) That SPLA under Kiir leadership needs to plan how to incorporate Maj. Gen. George Athor with his followers back into SPLA army without delay and hesitation;

2) That a civilian committee from Jonglei and Upper Nile states be formed to intervene and assure his followers who are civilians to work with the new elected governments in both states to maintain peace and tranquility;

3) That speedy plans are put in place and need not to wait as we always wait to see what will happen and act when it is too late to act;

4) That the defeated candidates, who happened to be independent, be considered and accommodated politically, otherwise the South will not reach the long-awaited referendum period. In other words, they will be creating problems here and there to achieve their political agenda."

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