January 29, 2015
JUBA- South Sudan government on Thursday acknowledged the formation in its Western Equatoria state of a new rebel movement, separate from that led by former vice-president, Riek Machar.
“We received reports that such a thing has occurred. Some soldiers have decided to go with Major Lasuba Lodoru Wongo. He was the director for research at the ministry of defense,” a cabinet minister hailing from Western Equatoria state, told Sudan Tribune by phone.
“Until now, we don’t know the exact number of soldiers who have gone with him but what I hear is that about 100 to 200 soldiers are not with their units in Maridi town,” added the minister.
A group, calling itself Revolutionary Movement for National Salvation (REMNASA), claimed it launched a “successful” attack on security forces in Maridi on Tuesday, “killing 6 soldiers and wounding many others”.
The unknown attackers reportedly captured several arms and ammunition.
“This attack marks the official launch of second liberation struggle under REMNASA with the aim to dislodge the murderous regime of Dictator Salvatore Kiir in Juba. It should be recalled that this group rebelled from the South Sudan Army on 9/1/2015 and on 19/1/2015 attacked the SPLA [Sudan People’s Liberation Army] production unit at Mankakara 2 which is located 8 KM from Maridi two nom Maridi-Rumbek roads,” partly reads the group’s statement obtained by Sudan Tribune.
Some SPLA officers, the statement says, are behind the formation of the new revel movement, which could further distabilise the country.
The group cited “bad governance” and “failed leadership” as key factors that triggered the formation of the new rebel movement, accusing the ruling party (SPLM) leaders of failure to address the crisis seen thousands of people killed and nearly two million displaced.
“And for that matter the two protagonists can in no way possible be able to reconcile the people and restore genuine peace even if they are to reach peace agreement now,” the new group claimed.
The new rebel movement, however, distanced itself from the armed opposition led by Riek Machar, which has operated for over a year.
Several have people expressed mixed reactions over the new rebel group’s formation.
Andrew Kuol, the deputy inspector general of police told Sudan Tribune that the situation in Maridi town and its surrounding areas remained under control of government troops and security forces.
He also denied reports that police personnel had joined the rebels.
“There is no such a thing. None of our personnel has defected to that group. I think it is propaganda by enemies of peace and those who would like to cause havoc and instill fear, suspicion and mistrust among our people and in the police. The general security situation in Maridi town, as of now, today, and elsewhere in the state of Western Equatoria is calm and under maximum control of our gallant SPLA forces and other security organs,” Kuol told Sudan Tribune.
According to Kuol, it was business as usual as people went about with normal activities in markets and other areas within Maridi town.
“There is no threat of the so called rebellion. There is nothing unusual. Get it from me”, he stressed.
The deputy police boss, however, said the incident in which two people were killed and another wounded on Tuesday in Maridi was an isolated one and that security forces were hunting for the culprits.
“What may have been twisted in these reports may be the incident which took place in Maridi town on Tuesday evening, where we received a report of the death of two civilians and another was injured. But this is an isolate incident. It is a criminal act and all security organs in the area are hunting the perpetuators”, he said.
Western Equatoria state minister of information and communication, Charles Barnaba Kisanga equally denied reports on formation of a new rebellion in Maridi.
“There is no rebellion. All media reports which I read are unfounded, because a genuine rebellion cannot go on rampage by killing innocent civilians indiscriminately. What happened on Tuesday was an isolated incident,” Kisanga told Sudan Tribune.
He said some people went on rampage killing innocent civilians in Maridi, resulting to the death of two people and wounding another.
“The perpetuators then fled and our security forces, the SPLA, police, wild life and all the security organs are hunting them. The situation is under control now”, said Kisanga, stressing that “All activities have been resumed normally. Markets are opened and moving freely”.
The army spokesperson, Col. Philip Aguer, said he was unaware of the incident.