Paul Malong’s Rebels Have No Positions in Bahr El Ghazal – South Sudan Army

South Sudanese army have denied the presence in Bahr El Ghazal of military positions held by South Sudan United Front (SSUF) rebels loyal to the former army chief of staff Paul Malong Awan.

The Commander of the 5th Infantry Division in Wau, Major General Abraham Gum Makuac told the Sudan Tribune on Thursday that he has no knowledge of the presence of SSUF rebels or armed persons under command of the former army chief of staff in Bahr El Ghazal region.

“There is nothing to confirm about social media reports. Better to ask them not me. What I know is that Paul Malong has no forces in Bahr El Ghazal,” said Makuac General,  before adding that it is better to speak with the general headquarters.

The military commander was reacting to media reports warning civilians, foreign nationals, and members of the humanitarian organizations to stop using public roads in order not to be the victim of guerrilla activities.

For his part, Maj. Philip Deng Kuol Nguot, Deputy Military Spokesperson of the SSUF warned on Thursday that all Bhar El Ghazal roads users/drivers should cease using public roads in Bahr El Ghazal regions, waring of military operations they would launch.

“The SSUF  takes this moment to profile an ultimate warning statement.  Due to tenacious military assaults by government forces on our positions in the areas of Greater Bhar El Ghazal and the Western Equatoria States, South Sudan United Front/Army General Military Council (GMC) is vividly compelled to issue an immediate warning to civilians, foreign truckers, and NGOs to avoid random movements in an aforementioned area”.

“We are hereby asking our peace guarantors, particularly the Catholic faith-based community of Sant’Egidio to set a watchful eye and engage the regime to alleviate its anti-peace campaign against SSUF/A invincible forces loyal to Gen. Paul Malong,” further reads a statement extended to the Sudan Tribune.

Nguot claimed the statement was issued because the government had failed to observe the cessation of hostilities which is signed with his group in Rome as part of the efforts to end the conflict.

“This has to be treated as a total violation of the Rome Declaration of Principles (DoP), Cessation of Hostilities and Ceasefire Compromise that we together inked with South Sudan’s interim government”.

In addition, he revealed that the SSUF/A high command directed to launch a fortified military operation to block the movement of government forces who are searching for the group’s military outposts and cut their logistical procurements.

“We again take this moment to notify our beloved civilians, non-native truckers, and drivers for our military engagements not to deliberately inflict them during such lamentably circumstances and stay alerted to cease from moving with military vehicles or carrying any military supplies,” Nguot said in a statement.

Paul Malong’s group is one of the rebel groups for whom the Saint-Egidio-led mediation has been trying to break a deal with the government.

The USAID-sponsored mediation is aimed at supporting an inclusive peace agreement in  South Sudan by persuading the hold-out group to join the revitalized peace deal signed in September 2018.

In January last year, the government and SSOMA signed the Rome Declaration to cease hostilities.

Presidential Affairs Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said last week the government was preparing to resume talks with the group.

However, he did not say when the talk would resume.

Chol Mawel