Army refutes involvement in Maban fighting

By Chany Ninrew

The Sudan South People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) which is the national army said it is not involved in a purported military skirmishes attributed to its forces and the SPLA-IO in Maban county of Upper Nile State.

Instead, the acting army Spokesperson Brigadier General Santo Domic told Juba Monitor that the fighting was between SPLA-IO and the local community as a result of bush burning.

“Maban is a semi-arid area and grasses are one of the resources so burning it amounts to a very serious offence and you can be charged in court, so instead of respecting the local rules, the SPLA-IO went as far as burning the grass. This has resulted into conflict between the SPLA-IO in the cantonment site and the local community,” he said.

However, the deputy spokesperson of SPLA-IO Colonel Lam Paul Gabriel downplayed reports of fighting in the oil rich state.

“We have no confirmation of clashes, so whatever is circulated on social media might be some personal views, because I called the commanders on the ground who they said our forces have only witnessed preparation of forces from the other side to come and attack them, but which did not happen,” he said.

Meanwhile, Col. Lam described the general situation as tense after reports of an increased movement of forces in the area.

“It is really alarming that when we are implementing the agreement, and our forces have to be on standby to defend themselves but we will continue to push our peace partners to be able to control their forces on the ground,” he added.

Lam said they will raise the issue to Joint Defense Board, NTC and the presidency so that they come up with a solution to address the growing ceasefire violations.

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