Security Challenges | Fighting in south Sudan kills more than 100

Posted February 12, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Featured ~ 3,519 views


By Josh Kron THE NEW YORK TIMES | Fresh battles between renegade soldiers and the Southern Sudanese military in recent days have left more than 100 people dead in Southern Sudan, sending tremors through a heavily militarized region that only days ago celebrated the final results of a referendum to separate from the rest of the country.

The Southern Sudanese military clashed Wednesday and Thursday with hundreds of rebel fighters loyal to a renegade general, George Athor. The fighting killed 105 people in the state of Jonglei and broke a one-month armistice. The military said Friday that the fighting had dissipated, but it remained unclear how long the calm would last.

“The cease-fire is broken,” said a spokesman for the Southern Sudanese army, Philip Aguer. “This was a surprise move.”

The fighting comes less than a week after official results of the southern referendum were announced, with more than 98 percent of the nearly 4 million voters choosing to separate from north Sudan after decades of civil war. During the war, rebels fought together in a coalition against the north but have at times turned against one another.

This vast region is considered to be one of the poorest, least-developed places in the world, and it is teeming with soldiers. Security is routinely singled out as the most important priority in Southern Sudan.

According to the 2005 peace treaty that brought the civil war to an end, 180,000 soldiers from north and south Sudan were supposed to demobilize and reintegrate into society. But so far only about 400 soldiers across the entire country have completed that process, and the United Nations has been blamed for hindering the country’s demobilization program through fiscal mismanagement.

While the Southern Sudanese government and military have expressed confidence about their grip on the region in the period before independence — expected to be declared July 9 — there are a number of signs that the fragile status quo could crumble.

Last weekend, a rebellion by Southern Sudanese soldiers in Sudan’s joint-integrated units in Upper Nile State left 50 people dead, including children and a U.N. employee.

Then Wednesday, near the town of Fangak in neighboring Jonglei, two Southern Sudanese army trucks were patrolling a road when they were destroyed by mines; 16 soldiers were killed in the blast and the ensuing battle. The Southern Sudanese military said the mines were laid by rebel soldiers loyal to Athor, who had led a rebellion last year when he was not elected governor of Jonglei.

He signed a cease-fire with the Southern Sudanese government in January, just days before the referendum, paving the way for what international election observers called a free, fair and peaceful vote.

The Southern Sudanese army said that it did not know why its forces had been attacked, but that it did not want a return to war.

“We still want reconciliation with George Athor,” Aguer said. “We want people to start reconstructing their lives.”

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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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