By Richard Ruati
November 6, 2011 (KAMPALA) - The governor of Western Equatoria, Bangasi Joseph Bakosoro, on Friday warned rebel groups and renegade militias not to attempt to use the state as base for a rebellion after recent arrests.
- W. Equatoria governor Bangasi Joseph Bakosoro speaking in his office on Saturday on the arrest of Peter Abdurrahman Sule. Nov. 5, 2011 (Photo: Gift Bullen)
South Sudan’s army (SPLA) in collaboration with communities of Jambo county captured the leader of the United Democratic Front (UDF) Peter Abdurrahman Sule on Thursday, as he was in the process of establish a militia to challenge Juba government, the military say.
Three weeks ago Mr Sule disappeared and, according to the SPLA, went to the bush between Western and Central Equatoria states to start an insurgency against the government of President Salva Kiir.
South Sudan already has various rebel groups fighting government.
“This state is not a state where by people will cause anything to implement it here, this is a state which is peaceful, a state having reasonable people, a state which does not require trouble. If, you want to start a revolutionary movement don’t come with it to Western Equatoria again,” warned Bakosoro.
The governor revealed that he tried to persuade Sule not to start a rebellion but after he had refused to listen to his emissaries on two occasions he sent in the SPLA to arrest him.
Bakosoro confirmed that Sule was captured on Thursday night at 8pm in the Boiegi area of Witoh payam [district] in Mundri East county.
Before his arrest the UDF party chairman had been missing for three weeks according to the party’s secretary general David William.
Bakosoro expressed his satisfaction that Surle had been captured unharmed and sent to Juba, adding that this would dispel rumours that Western Equatoria citizens had joined South Sudan’s rebellions.
He hailed the efforts of the SPLA forces in the state and the communities of Jambo for having worked and coordinated the arrest the UDF leader. During Sule’s arrest two people were killed and one seriously injured in crossfire.
Under no circumstance would Western Equatoria be used as a battleground for senseless war Bakosoro said.
"We will not allow anyone who will come and camp in the forests of [our] State that he is fighting the Government of the Republic of South Sudan," the governor said.
"We are not here to fight against our own government.”
Since 2005, Western Equatoria state has been faced with different insecurity problems, most notably from the Ugandan rebels the Lord’s Resistance Army and the nomadic cattle herding Ambororo tribe.
Governor Bakosoro urged all the inhabitants of the state to be security conscious and report any person plotting against the state or national government.
Considering South Sudan gained its independence in July and was still recovering from decades of civil war, this is not time to fight, the governor said, but a time to build the new country and educate the next generation.
UDF DENY INVOLVEMENT
The UDF leader is alleged to have been recruiting in the areas of Jambo and Rokon of Central and Western Equatoria states.
It is believed that the UDF leader rebelled because his party was being marginalised by the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
The secretary-general of the party, David William, while addressing the press on Thursday in Juba, said the UDF has nothing to do with the disappearance of its chairman and his activities, adding that not even Sule’s family knew of his whereabouts.
William also announced that party members had convened a meeting in its premises and relieved the leader of his duties. The secretary-general has assumed the leadership of the party until the next general assembly in which a new leader will be elected.
The UDF party was founded in 1998 in Khartoum shortly after the signing the Khartoum Peace Agreement. UDF participated in the then autonomous Government of Southern Sudan in 2005, when the SPLM was installed as the region’s ruling party.
This failed attempt to form a rebel group contrasts with rebel groups in Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states that continue to attack the SPLA and have ignored President Kiir’s offer of an amnesty.
Sule’s rebellion is the first of its kind to be started in the relatively peaceful greater Equatoria region since the landmark 2005 peace agreement which culminated in South Sudan’s independence in on July 9, 2011.