South Sudan rebels deny recruiting refugees in Ethiopia

March 4, 2018 (JUBA) – South Sudan rebels have rubbished claims they have recruited civilians in the refugee camp in the neighbouring Gambella region of Ethiopia, stressing the claims was a mere propaganda.

South Sudanese refugees in Gambela, Ethiopia (Photo: South Sudan Consul, Gambela)

Lt Gen James Koang Chuol SPLA-IO Deputy Chief of General Staffs (DCOG) for Administration and Finance told Sudan Tribune on Sunday he was accused with several other senior commanders of recruiting refugees in order to compromise the group’s relationship with the Ethiopian government.

“They want to implicate me with Ethiopian government while they are on the offensive on our forces in Maiwut and Nasir. The latest claim by the so-called (SPLM-IO Taban Deng Gai faction) Dickson Gatluak Joak is not true and contrary to the cessation of hostilities agreement which is not being respected by their government,” he said.

Last week, SPLM-IO faction loyal to First Vice President Taban Deng, alleged that rebel commanders from the SOLM-Io faction led by Riek Machar have mobilized refugees in Ethiopia to join them and attack Pagak, a town at the border between Ethiopia and South Sudan.

However, Chuol has described the claim against their group by the government as a “dangerous accusation and unfounded allegations”.

“It has not happened to us to go and recruit refugees in the refugee camps in another country. But the government thought it was smart enough to resort to propaganda in order to blindfold the region and international community,” he added.

In a statement released on Sunday, Taban’s faction said the forces loyal to the former First Vice President Machar are now in Buoth of Northern Upper Nile, preparing for attacks on several areas in the Upper Nile region including Nasir, Bentiu and Pagak.

The statement further said the Troika countries, which facilitate the peace process, should now that the opposition groups are not willing to reach a negotiated settlement but seek a “regime change”.

“We are well informed that they (rebels) receive moral and material support- weapons and ammunition from their allies in the region and beyond,” further claimed the statement.

The warring parties in South Sudan signed a cessation of hostilities agreement on 21 December 2017, but the confidence measure has not been observed. Also, threats of sanctions didn’t dissuade them from carrying out attacks.

(ST)

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