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South Sudanese army say have no information about Nuba Mountain General

April 5, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s army has denied any knowledge of the detention and arrant release of Telephone Kuku, a former Nuba Mountain General, who was first detained in Juba, before the nation split from Sudan in July 2011.

General Telefon Kuku - FILE

In an interview with the privately-owned Sudan Radio Service (SRS) on Thursday, South Sudan’s interior minister, Alison Manani Magaya, said Kuku was living freely in South Sudan since his release in July 2012.

“I understand that Telephone Kuku is not in prison, and that he is free, but he said he doesn’t want to go to the North so he wants to stay here, I got this information from a reliable source in the ministry of justice,” said Magaya.

However South Sudanese military officials denied all knowledge of Kuku’s 2010 imprisonment or his reported release last year.

SPLA spokesperson, Colonel Phillip Aguer, told Sudan Tribune on Friday he was not aware of Kuku’s detention or whether he had indeed been released.

"I am not aware. Who gave you this information? May be you contact the source of your information", Aguer said, categorically denying any knowledge of Kuku’s case.

SPLA deputy spokesperson Colonel Kella Duol, also denied having any knowledge of Kuku’s house arrest or release.

"Nobody knows this information. It is clear this information did not come from the General headquarters of the SPLA or any source from our forces. We do not understand why anyone should tell stories that can easily be proved to have no basis", Duol said on Friday.

Further, South Sudan’s Deputy Interior Minister, Salva Mathok Gengdit, in a separate in interview also claimed not to have any information on Kuku.

“There is no information that shows Telephone Kuku was arrested in our records. Telephone is in the country at will. He is here just like any other Sudanese national and we do not have a right to tell them to go if they do not want. It is their right to live anywhere”, Gengdit said on Friday.

Since the beginning of hostilities in South Kordofan in June 2011, critics accused Khartoum of shedding light on Kuku detention to alienate Nuba Mountains people from the rebel Sudan People’s liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) .

A permanent article demanding Kuku’s release is published on the portal of the official news agency SUNA with a résumé of his struggle in the SPLM, followed by all the news stories published about his detention or the efforts done to secure his release.

Kuku who is one of founders of the SPLM branch in the Nuba Mountains, was seen as potential leader for the SPLM in South Kordofan, while the leadership of the movement backed Abdel Aziz Hilu, who belongs to the Massalit tribe in West Darfur.