Tag Archives: Shikkuk

South Sudan – army general resigns citing abuses and ethnic bias


By Katharine Houreld | NAIROBI

A South Sudanese general has resigned, citing abuses by the security forces against civilians and what he called increasing ethnic favouritism in the military, according to a letter seen by Reuters on Saturday.

Lieutenant General Thomas Cirillo Swaka, the deputy head of logistics, is the highest-ranking officer to resign since former Vice President Riek Machar fled after his supporters clashed in Juba in July with soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir.

Swaka, widely known as Cirillo, is respected by the international community and Western governments would see his resignation and the charges he has levelled as an indictment of the government, one security expert in Nairobi said.

South Sudan has been riven by conflict since 2013, two years after seceeding from North Sudan. Fighting broke out a few months after Kiir, from the Dinka tribe, sacked Machar, a Nuer. His reinstatement in 2016 lasted just weeks before violence erupted again.

The conflict has increasingly followed ethnic lines, forcing three million people to flee their homes, bringing the nation of 11 million close to famine and leading the United Nations to say South Sudan was on the brink of genocide.

Swaka’s letter reinforced those warnings.

“President Kiir and his Dinka leadership clique have tactically and systematically transformed the SPLA into a partisan and tribal army,” it read, using the acronym for the government Sudan People’s Liberation Army.

“Terrorising their opponents, real or perceived, has become a preoccupation of the government.”

Swaka said the military, police and other security branches systematically recruited Dinka from the president and chief of army staff’s home region. Non-Dinkas and Dinkas who disagreed with the president’s agenda were given remote postings or sidelined, he said.

He also said “soldiers from the Dinka ethnic group have been strategically deployed and posted in non-Dinka areas to support the policy of land occupation.”

Swaka said the military raped and killed civilians and allowed tribal militias to commit the same abuses as well as running a network of secret prisons where torture was endemic.

The government routinely dismisses charges of ethnic bias and blames rebels for stoking trouble. Officials say any soldier committing abuses will be held to account and the president said on Monday any soldier committing rape should be shot.

Military spokesman Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang did not return calls seeking comment about Swaka’s letter. The presidential spokesman also could not immediately be reached.

U.N. officials and Western governments have accused both sides in the conflict of abuses.

(Editing by Edmund Blair and Louise Ireland)

South Sudan – Shilluk “Tiger” faction rejects joining SPLM-IO

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – An ethnic Shilluk force, known as the Tiger Faction New Forces (TFNF), which defected from Commander Johnson Olony’s Aguelek forces last year, has rejected appointment of their top leader as commander of Special Brigade One, saying they will not join the peace agreement unless President Salva Kiir revoked his creation of 28 states and gave back the annexed Shilluk lands including Malakal, capital of the newly established East Nile state (Upper Nile state).

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A member of South Sudanese rebel patrols the streets of Malakal, on March 4, 2014 (Photo AFP/Andrei Pungovschi)

In the recent preliminary deployments of hundreds of senior military officers of the armed Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) from Greater Upper Nile region, whichSudan Tribunepublished on Thursday, Major General Yoanis Okich of the TFNF was deployed as commander of the Special Brigade One by the opposition leader, Riek Machar.

However, the spokesperson for the TFNF dismissed the appointment, saying his forces will not join the SPLM-IO or take part in the implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement until the issue of the 28 states is resolved.

“TFNF was established by patriotic sons/daughters of South Sudan as a loud rejection to the un-constitutional establishment order 36/2015 which divided the Republic of South Sudan into 28 unpopular states. Hence it would only seize its political and military struggle against the dictatorial regime in Juba if its revokes the unpopular establishments order 36/2015 and restore Shilluk territories as per 1956 borders,” partly reads a press statement signed by Brigadier General Otowang Achwang, military spokesperson of TFNF, and extended to Sudan Tribune on Thursday.

“Once again we seize this opportunity to reassure our supporters that your gallant people’s revolutionary movement the Tigers will not be part of any forces or agreement that does not address the political grievances upon which it was established,” it said.

He said the ethnic Shilluk breakaway faction will continue with the armed struggle, saying appointing their commander in the SPLM-IO army structure was rejected and would therefore not shake their “revolutionary convictions.”

Forces in the Shilluk kingdom split last year from the main stream faction of Aguelek which joined the SPLM-IO under the overall command of Lt. General Johnson Olony.

General Olony is the appointed overall commander of the SPLA-IO’s Sector 1 headquarters, which includes Division 1, Division 7 and Aguelek forces based in Upper Nile state.

President Salva Kiir on 2 October 2015 unilaterally decreed creation of 28 states in contravention to the peace deal which is based on the existing 10 states.

The decision has been controversial since last year with the East African regional bloc, IGAD, intervening and calling on Kiir’s government to suspend the operationalization of the new states until the parties to the agreement reach a consensus and without which they should revert to the 10 states.