The South Sudanese army (SPLA) in Jonglei has vowed not to retreat from rebel forces commanded by former vice-president Riek Machar, accusing the latter of using child soldiers to fight against their own people.
- The deputy SPLA commander for Jonglei, Maj-Gen Malual Majok, speaks at a public address in the capital, Bor, on 22 September 2014 (ST)
The deputy SPLA commander for Jonglei, Maj-Gen Malual Majok, said the army would not back down from rebel forces, assuring civilians they would not be abandoned.
“I want to assure you that you will never run again. The army is stronger than any [other]. We will maintain our positions. We shall never move an inch back, because if we do, we will be forced to move ten thousand miles away for hiding,” said Majok from Jonglei state capital Bor on Monday.
Since the outbreak of violence in mid-December last year in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states have been hard-hit by the crisis, with thousands forced to flee into exile, while many more have been killed or injured.
Jonglei has been a flashpoint for violence, changing hands a number of times at the height of the conflict. The fighting has also caused widespread damage to public infrastructure.
Many people have been unable to return to their homes in Jonglei since the SPLA retook Bor from opposition forces in January.
A series of attacks have been reported in and around Renk, a clear violation of a ceasefire agreement signed by South Sudan’s warring parties.
Meanwhile, sources from Upper Nile state capital Malakal claimed the SPLA had captured a number of rebel fighters, some of whom were identified as foreign nationals.
Fighting has continued on the ground despite the agreed truce and ongoing peace talks in Ethiopia, which have been hampered by ongoing delays.