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South Sudan’s Paulino Matip dies in Nairobi after long illness

August 22, 2012 (NAIROBI) — General Paulino Matip, deputy commander in chief of the South Sudanese army (SPLA) and political leader died in Nairobi after a long battle with illness, his son told Sudan Tribune.

General Paulino Matip (file photo)

Different sources including his son Kang Matip confirmed his death at 01.00 am local time Mayo Clinic in Nairobi, Kenya.

Close aides and relatives with him in Nairobi told Sudan Tribune that Paulino was suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure.

He was awaiting a visa to travel to the United States where he already visited in August 2008 for medical treatment that lasted till January 2009.

Paulino will be remembered as the first powerful militia leader who sought to reconcile with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

On 8 January 2006, he signed the Juba Declaration on Unity and Integration between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the South Sudan Defence Forces (SSDF).

However, his troops clashed different times with SPLA forces in Unity state due to tribal rivalry with the state governor Taban Deng Gai, who is a Dinka. But the latter always denied such differences with him.

At the time, sources said Matip, despite the merger treaty with the SPLA wanted to have his troops under his direct command.

Paulino Matip’s aides and officers have long complained of marginalisation within the SPLA, citing tribal discrimination against the Nuer.

General Peter Gadet, one of Matip’s close aides, broke away from the SPLA in March 2011 before reintegrating back into the South Sudanese army (SPLA) in August 2011 after a deal negotiated with the government.

However, despite Gadet’s return many refused to reintegrate with the SPLA and the South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) has continued its low level rebellion.