Sunday, February 07, 2016

SPLM-IO Denies Detention of Senior Officers in Gambella
February 6, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – Officials of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) have denied allegations that a number of their senior officers have been kept in detention by the Ethiopian authorities.

A statement released from the South Sudanese government Embassy in Washington on Saturday said that senior SPLA-IO officials were arrested per an order from the Ethiopian army chief of staff, General Samora Mitchel.

“The Chief-of-Staff of the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF), Gen. Samora Mitchel, ordered the arrest of the SPLM-IO members because they were being suspected of arming the Nuer and Anyuak youth who clashed on January, 26,” partly reads a statement extended to Sudan Tribune by Gordon Buay, a South Sudanese ambassador based in Washington.

“The Government of the Republic of South Sudan, through South Sudan Embassy in Addis Ababa, requested the Ethiopian Government to deport the SPLM-IO military officers and cadres to Juba. Our Government pleaded to Ethiopian Government to deport them to Juba in the interest of the implementation of the Compromised Peace Agreement mediated and signed in Ethiopia,” further says the statement.

Buay said the Ethiopian government was alarmed with the spread of fighting across the Gambella region where Anyuak and Nuer civil servants residing either in Anyuak or Nuer territories were all killed.

He further alleged that given the fact that the Ethiopian government disarmed the civil population of Gambella in the past, it was established by the Ethiopian Military Intelligence that the SPLM-IO led by former Vice-president, Riek Machar sold weapons and ammunition to both Nuer and Anyuak youth.

“The influx of thousands of Nuer White Army in Gambella as refugees led to the availability of weapons and ammunition to Nuer and Anyuak of Ethiopia,” the statement further claimed.

He said as a result of the investigation to the source of weapons, the Ethiopian government ordered the arrest of the senior SPLM-IO military and political cadres.

The officers arrested and under detention in Gambella prison, according to the statement, included Lt. Gen. Thomas Mabor Dhol, Major General Khor Chuol Giet,Major General Yie Dak, Brig. General Wang Chaany, Brig. General Pal Yiech, Brig. General Peter Lim Bol, Liaison officer James Bang Hoth, Major Peter Jak Kuon, Capt. Gatdet Both, Capt. Beach Bang, Major Dagai Pathot, Major Lual Nyarew, Ding Lam Yual and 1st Lt. Anter Chuol.

“It is the position of the Government of South Sudan that the arrested members of the SPLM-IO should not be kept in jail in Gambella because they are part of the Movement that signed peace with the Government of South Sudan. Therefore, the Government of South Sudan is in a position to receive the SPLM-IO officers and political cadres after they are deported to Juba for violating the laws of Ethiopia,” added Ambassador Buay.

He added that the government of South Sudan was awaiting for formal response from the ministry of foreign affairs of Ethiopia to deport SPLM-IO officers and cadres to Juba. He added they received informal assurances that they would be “deported to Juba next week.”

However, the official spokesman of the opposition leader, James Gatdet Dak, dismissed the narrative from the government as a negative propaganda.

“The narrative from the government is a negative propaganda. We don’t have officers under detention in Gambella as we speak,” Dak told Sudan Tribune on Saturday evening.

He however said a number of officers who came to Gambella from Pagak for medical attention were advised by the Ethiopian authorities to return to Pagak for their safety due to the ongoing unrest in Gambella between Nuer and Anyuak.

“They have all returned to Pagak today [Saturday]. Nobody is being detained as alleged,” he added.

He also dismissed as “desperate propaganda” the allegation from the government’s senior diplomat that the SPLM-IO was arming the Nuer citizens in Gambella region and that thousands of members of the White Army (local Nuer fighters in South Sudan) have come to Gambella to destabilize the region.

This accusation by the government came a week after clashes involving Ethiopian Nuer and Anyuak population in Gambella left dozens dead, displacing the Anyuak population from the town centre.

The clashes occurred when an Anyuak man threw a hand grenade at Nuer college students in an area of predominantly of Anyuak population.


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