Militia leader George Athor, a former army officer who
rebelled last year saying he had been cheated out of the
governorship of the southern state of Jonglei, told Reuters he
was ready to call a cease-fire to end weeks of violence.
Just short of 99 percent of southern voters chose to split
away from the north in a referendum in January, a vote promised
in a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war with the
north. The south is due to secede on July 9.
Athor, speaking by satellite phone, said his forces exchanged
fire with southern army patrols on Friday and Saturday in
Jonglei — where French oil giant Total was due to start
exploring this year.
“There were skirmishes between reconnaissance patrols on
Friday, in a village called Pachot, the SPLA (southern army) had
seven injured, four killed.”
He said there were no fatalities in fighting a day later in
the village of Alow.
Athor said he had ordered his men not to launch more attacks.
“We are ready to declare a cease-fire. We will only respond
if we are attacked ... Our people are really suffering. When
there is fighting they leave their homes and go to the bush.
There is need for a cease-fire for our people to go back to
SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer said Athor’s forces attacked the
army on Friday and Saturday, but had no details of casualties.
Aguer said the south’s semi-autonomous government would have
to agree to any cease-fire. No one was immediately available to
comment from the government.
The SPLA has accused Athor of breaking an earlier truce by
massacring more than 200 people in the Fangak area of Jonglei in
mid February. Athor accused the SPLA of starting that fighting.
The south has regularly accused north Sudan of arming Athor
to destabilize the region and keep control of its oil. Athor and
Khartoum have dismissed the allegations.