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Sudan Tribune

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South Sudan army video clip over Melut is misleading: rebel spokesperson

May 23, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – Spokesman for the opposition leader, Riek Machar, said a video clip played on South Sudan TV (SSTV) on Thursday which alleged recorded defeat of the rebels in Melut town, near Paloch oilfields in Upper Nile state, was misleading.

SPLA soldiers sit at the back of a pick-up truck in Malakal, Upper Nile state January 12, 2014. (Photo Reuters/Andreea Campeanu)
SPLA soldiers sit at the back of a pick-up truck in Malakal, Upper Nile state January 12, 2014. (Photo Reuters/Andreea Campeanu)
“A video clip played on SSTV alleging recorded defeat of our forces in Melut town by pro-Salva Kiir’s soldiers is laughable. It was misleading,” said Machar’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak.

Dak told Sudan Tribune on Saturday that the video clip was shot on Tuesday, 19 May the day the rebel forces captured the town, challenging how the government could claim that it defeated their forces on the same day.

The government-run SSTV on Thursday played a programme produced by Brigadier General Malaak Ayuen, the director of information and public relations in the headquarters of the South Sudanese army, which claimed how their troops forced out the rebel troops from Melut town two days after the rebels captured the town.

It showed a long convoy of soldiers arriving on Toyota pick-ups while others were shooting as they walked. The video clip also showed a burning town and ferry destroyed in the river mounted with heavy weapons.

Ayuen who was introducing what was being shown in the live pictures with songs of victory in the background said it was the fighting that flushed out the rebel forces from the area.

However Dak said watching the video clip it was clear that it was shot either before they attacked Melut or after their forces already withdrew from the town, saying the government was trying to appear as if they forcefully flushed out their forces from the town.

The rebel leader’s spokesperson said their forces were not defeated but orderly withdrew after taking away all the arsenal the government stored in the town, explaining that government forces returned after learning that the town was empty.

He also said watching and examining the video clip carefully one would easily detect that there was no exchange of fire.

“They think they can deceive every citizen in South Sudan, which is not true. If you watch the video clip you will notice that there was no exchange of fire. Only the government forces were shooting in a very relaxed manner,” he said.

“Some were even shown sitting on the ground and chatting while others were randomly shooting bullets in a certain direction. There was no intensity in the shootings. It was random shooting.”

He further said even the video shots were taken in a seemingly calm environment in which the camera person was not disturbed.

Dak said the date on which the purported video was shot indicated it was 19 May on Tuesday the day the town was captured by the rebels, saying government “propagandists” should explain whether they wrongly set the date in the camera or they were recording their on defeat on that day.

The video named ‘The battle of Melut by SPLA’ can be accessed by following this link on youtube. .

(ST)