Sudan: Senior South Sudan Army Officer Allegedly Arrested Over Rebel Links

Juba — An anonymous source in South Sudan’s army, SPLA, on Sunday claimed that senior a officer is incarcerated over allegations of underground connections to armed rebel groups.

A high ranking officer at the headquarters of the country’s army requesting anonymity told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that Major General Gatwec Duel has been arrested after establishing sufficient evidence to indicate his links with rebel groups operating in South Sudan’s Jonglei state.

Although an official statement is not yet prepared, the official was able to confirm “that Major General Gatwec Duel has on 11 October 2012 been arrested. The reason being that it has been found out Gatwec has documented links with rebel groups. The intention is to destabilise Jonglei and subsequently South Sudan at large.”

The officer claimed that a military committee formed in September found that Duel has links with militia commander, David Yau Yau, currently fighting the government forces in Pibor county.

Yau Yau took up arms against the authorities following the 2010 general elections in which he lost the seat of the commissioner to the incumbent commissioner, Joshua Konyi.

In 2011 he then signed a peace deal. He flip-flopped once again and took up arms against the government in April..

Yau Yau is a member of the Murle ethnic group. There has been scant information from the Murle Diaspora and the Murle in South Sudan on their perspective of the conflict in Jonglei state, unlike the vocal Luo-Nuer who claim that the Murle have been driven to abducting their children as they are suffering from an infertility endemic; a view shared by the country’s president, Salva Kiir.

According to the UN Environmental Program the Murle were in Ethiopia until the 19th century. Some remained there until the 1990s while others were driven west by local Nilotes. They established an homeland in Pibor county, Jonglei state in the 1930s, since which, environmental pressures have impinged upon their pastoralist lifestyle.

Little evidence can be found to support the infertility claim. However, the motivation to rationalise the denigration of one of South Sudan’s pariah ethnic groups, in order to legitimise the attribution of blame, is self-evident.

In September the SPLA spokesperson, Philip Aguer Panyang, reacted to claims that Yau Yau’s troops had been receiving air-dropped military assistance, saying that “the proof is beyond doubt. We have been informing the public about Khartoum arming all mercenaries and militias in South Sudan.”

Juba and Khartoum have, on numerous occasions, accused one another of backing their respective rebel groups.

Attempts to reach an SPLA spokesperson regarding the alleged arrest failed but a release from community members in Jonglei state makes the same claims as the anonymous source.

According to a release bearing the signature of the secretary of information in the Association of Jieng Community in Juba, Garang Nhial, “most generals in the SPLA have begun to support renegade Dak Kueth who is destabilising Jonglei state. Our community has learned that Maj. Gen. Bol Kong is sympathetic to Dak Kueth.”

Dak Kueth is a self-proclaimed “prophet from God” who is thought to have vast influence among local people, according to local officials. After a confrontation with the SPLA in 2011, as part of a state-wide disarmament campaign, Kueth and his followers crossed into Ethiopia to evade giving up their weapons, the SPLA’s Kuol Deim Kuol, the commander in charge of Operation Restore Peace said. It is alleged that Kueth has influence amongst the Uror administration. He is a member of the Luo-Nuer ethnic group.

“Jonglei State has no peace because of David Yau Yau and criminal Dak Kueth. Any SPLA officer supporting Dak kueth out of tribal solidarity is not good to remain in the SPLA because the secrets of the army will be known by the enemies of South Sudan,” said Nhial.

Calling upon the national army to rid itself “from all Nyagats [fifth columnists]” Nhial claimed that “it is not a secret in Juba that Maj. Gen. Gatwec Duel and Maj. Gen. Bol Kong are sympathisers of Dak Kueth.”

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