JUBA – A senior South Sudan main armed Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition Commander has been arrested in Western Bahr el Ghazal state’s Jur River County by elements of South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF), according to the deputy SPLA-IO Operations Commander in Western Bahr el Ghazal.
Lieutenant Colonel Lino Madut Urayo said forces belonging to the South Sudan army left Wau town on Saturday morning and headed to an area in Jur River County and arrested SPLA-IO Major Ukel Deng and a number of soldiers who the army has accused of causing havocs in the area.
“We received information yesterday (Saturday) from the areas of Kangi, Bahr- Urud and Udici on the side of our Brigadier General Piel Ajak that the soldiers from Division 5 (SSPDF) went there and arrested our Major Ukel Deng, other soldiers and also they took a traffic policeman and several civilians,” Lt. Col. Urayo said, according to Radio Tamazuj.
“We don’t know what the operation was about and we are asking because SPLM/A-IO has no problem with anybody as our leader Dr. Riek Machar is in Juba representing us and our governor here in Wau. It is our right to come to the town and to stay with our civilians but what happened yesterday when our people were found with civilians and were arrested is not right,” he added.
The opposition commander urged the army to instead work with them in a way that does not put to jeopardize the confidence built as results of the revitalized peace agreement signed in 2018 by President Salva Kiir Mayardit and First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny.
“If there is anything from our side as SPLA-IO, report it to our headquarters. If you want anybody connected to any crime come to us and we will apprehend him and hand him over to the authorities in a clear way but don’t just go and arrest anybody unlawfully,” he said.
Separately, Brigadier General James Mare Giir, another senior SPLA-IO Commander in Western Bahr el Ghazal state said the security situation was dire and that the circumstances leading to the arrest of the senior opposition commander are illegal urging the SSPDF to release the arrested officer and his soldiers.
“The operation of Kangi up to Bahr-Urud was illegal and involved two vehicles mounted with the (SSPDF) soldiers. They just started arresting people and they said they were going to Brigadier General Piel Ajak. People were arrested and brought to Wau town. What is this?” he said.
South Sudan army spokesman Major-General Lul Ruai contact when contacted by Radio Tamazuj however said he is now aware of what had happened and promised to return to the press when he receive any information regarding that matter.