S. Sudan denies hosting Ethiopian rebels OLF in its territory

March 19, 2015 (JUBA) – South Sudan dismissed as unfounded reports alleging it was hosting Ethiopian rebels within territories as part of efforts to fight the armed opposition forces led by the country’s former vice president-turned rebel leader, Riek Machar.

“The rebels made similar propaganda before. We have no irregular foreign forces in South Sudan. These reports you are talking about are unfounded. They are intended to mislead the public and to cause confusion”, Upper Nile state information minister, Peter Hoth Tuach told Sudan Tribuneon Thursday.

He said he was unaware of the presence of Ethiopia forces in the state.

“I saw these misleading reports in the social media and I did not say anything about them because I know for sure they are just for propaganda purposes by the rebels, he said. There is no truth in all those claims. You come and prove for yourself”, he added.

South Sudan army spokesperson, Colonel Philip Aguer separately said on Thursday that he had “no knowledge of such information”.

Although Sudan Tribune was unable to independently verify the veracity of the allegations, several local and military sources claimed Ethiopian authorities have ramped up presence of the security forces along Ethiopia-South Sudan border areas in pursuit for Ethiopian rebels posing security threats for upcoming elections.

Samuel Duwar, head of defense and security committee in the national legislative said his committee had not yet received any information from relevant government institutions.

Duwar also rejected voices demanding withdrawal of the foreign forces fighting alongside government against armed opposition forces in different parts of the country.

“Our country and its leadership owe nobody any explanation for doing whatever it takes to defeat the rebels of Riek Machar, which in fact is considered now as one of the negative force in the region to be allowed to operate. People also need to know that is South Sudan a sovereign nation with all the rights to defend her territorial integrity,” said the legislator.

“It has the right to procure weapons from friendly countries and reserves the right to obtain the necessary expertise required to optimally deploy and use the new hardware”, he stressed.

John Deng, a member of South Sudan’s ruling party (SPLM) in Western Bahr el Ghazal state, wondered why people queried the presence of Ugandan troops in the country.

“I have always failed to understand what people who have been asking the reason for the presence of the Uganda troops in South Sudan. I wonder why people would bother about mercenaries instead of celebrating the military that have freed swaths of land from the control of terrorists,” said Deng.

Abdallah Kuot, the spokesperson for the armed opposition forces in Bahr el Ghazal region, said the presence of foreign troops was a disgrace to the country and its military leadership.

“It is a big disgrace that the government imported foreign mercenaries to fight its own war against her people. Hiring foreign mercenaries from Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda to fight their war is a big disgrace and shameful. You should not be surprise that one day these countries will invade the country because by the end of war, they will have known all strategic security and economic areas and where to engage and destroy our military,” said the rebel official.

According to Kuot, South Sudan will in future lose land to its neghbouring nations, many of who perceive its army to be “weak”.

“Kenya and Uganda have started in eastern Equatoria and the unresolved border issues with Sudan. These countries know that we have a very weak military and they have no respect for our people and the country,” he said.

Officials of Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement In Opposition (SPLM-IO) have accused president Salva Kiir’s government of allegedly backing new Ethiopian rebels against Addis Ababa.

(ST)

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