Home | News    Friday 23 December 2011

South Sudan parliament reacts to rebel Athor’s death

December 22, 2011 (JUBA) - A speaker of South Sudan’s National Assembly on Thursday said it was a “relief” that rebel leader General George Athor, was killed on Monday evening.

The country’s vice president Riek Machar announced on Tuesday that Athor was killed by South Sudan’s army (SPLA) in Morobo County, Central Equatoria State.

Athor’s rebellion began after he failed to become the governor of Jonglei state during elections in 2010, claiming the vote had been rigged in favour of the incumbent.

The vice president said the rebel leader was planning to recruit new fighters into his movement in Central Equatoria State. Machar claims Athor had crossed into South Sudan from the Democratic Republic of Congo when he was killed by a border patrol.

Athor’s rebel movement have vowed to fight on and claim Uganda was involved in his death as he had recently traveled there.

Daniel Awet Akot, an acting speaker of South Sudan’s National Assembly described the killing of the rebel leader as a “relief”, especially to Jonglei and Upper Nile States.

He said the late rebel leader should have responded to the amnesty offered by the country’s president Salva Kiir Mayardit to all the rebel groups in July, when South Sudan gained independence.

“It was good news when many people heard that Athor was finally killed, because his death would not only bring stability to Jonglei State but also to the neigbouring communities from other states affected by the conflict”, Akot told the press in Juba on Wednesday.

The senior member of the country’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) said that killing Athor was the only option left to the government.

“Athor was pardoned three times but rejected so the solution was to kill him because he was a national threat."

The rebel leader had fought with the SPLA/M through two decades of war with north Sudan and had held a ministerial position in the government after self-rule was achieved in 2005.

As a general in the SPLA, Athor was the highest ranked member of the southern military to rebel against the Juba governemnt.

Akot described his former colleague as a “traitor” and warned that there should no forgiveness to those fighting the government. He urged citizens of the world’s newest nation to make 2012 a year of unity.

Nhial Bol, the editor in chief of The Citizen - an English daily - has been among those who have argued that Athor’s death will not bring an end to South Sudan’s rebellions.

In his column on Thursday, Bol said that Athor brought his demise upon himself but warned that it may be hard to encourage the remaining rebels to put down their guns.

Jonglei state official, Garang Dut Kuek a native of Khorfulus - where Athor based his rebellion - said the death of Athor was a just act considering the number of civilians who suffered because of his rebellion.

“We must use lessons learned in these rebellions to address the issue of inclusiveness and informed legal framework that protect freedom and rights of citizens to civic participation in political processes”, Kuek said.

Phillip Thon Leek, a former Jonglei State governor, remarked that in spite of tradition, the news of Athor’s death was received with happiness because his rebellion was hindering the delivery of basic services and implementation of the development projects.