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Sudan Tribune

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Upper Nile governor downplays opposition threats to elections

January 15, 2015 (JUBA) – The governor of South Sudan’s border state of Upper Nile, Simon Kun Puoc, has downplayed fears the armed opposition could disrupt upcoming elections state, saying precautionary measures have been taken to provide adequate security.

Soldiers from the South Sudan army (SPLA) patrol the streets in the Upper Nile state capital, Malakal, on 21 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Charles Lomodong)
Soldiers from the South Sudan army (SPLA) patrol the streets in the Upper Nile state capital, Malakal, on 21 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Charles Lomodong)
“The security situation in the state is under control. Our forces are in charge, although the rebels have been trying to cause havoc and mayhem,” Puoc told reporters on Thursday.

“Our forces are seriously watching them. They tried recently in Jamam, but that was dealt with and the situation there is okay,” he added.

Puoc is currently in the nation’s capital, Juba, where he is holding consultations with president Salva Kiir and other government officials from the region on an upcoming peace conference due to be held before the elections.

The governor said administrative and security matters had been among the issues discussed.

“We know our people are peace-loving people. They have never been killing themselves before. This kind of communal attack and killing is the work of politicians and people wanting to use tribe as the means to achieve their own political interests,” he said.

“We want to organise a conference so that we bring together our people to talk and air out how we can restore trust so that people can begin to work and live together as brothers and sisters instead of killing,” Puoc added.

He has stressed that there was no threat that would prevent the conduct of elections in the region.

“There is no threat to elections. If elections are held today you will see people in Upper Nile coming out to vote and nothing would stop them. We have asked people in the UN camp to come and they have started coming out because we are continuing striving to move forward, to transform people’s expectations into actions, and to transform people’s hopes into realities,” he said.

“We must comprehensively deepen our reform process. An arrow that has already been shot has no way back. During this critical and trying moment in our country, only the courageous people can win,” he added.

Earlier this month, the three states in the Upper Nile region asked Kiir to consider deploying troops and provide air force capability.

Some observers from Upper Nile say the region remains too insecure to hold elections and there have been calls for the government to delay the poll until the security situation improves.

There are also concerns that many foreign observers will not be granted security clearance to monitor the polls.

The oil-producing Upper Nile state has been a flashpoint for violence since violence erupted across the country in December 2013, changing hands several times between government and rebel forces led by former vice-president Riek Machar.

The conflict, triggered by an internal dispute in the ruling SPLM party, has reignited tribal tensions across the country, namely between the Dinka, of which Kiir belongs, and Machar’s Nuer.


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