A statement from South Sudan armed rebel faction affiliated outlawed opposition leader Riek Machar says their troops clashed with government forces in areas along the border with Democratic Republic of Congo and seized control of the major towns.
The statement signed by William Gatjiath Deng as spokesperson of the armed rebels circulated to the media says Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) fighters took control of towns including; Bazi at the South Sudan-DRC border, Morobo in Central Equatoria and Kaljak in Unity state on Tuesday.
East Africa Daily could not independently confirm these claims as government officials were not available for comment despite repeated attempts.
However, Deng said they will continue acting in ‘self defense’: repulsing government led assaults and in the process gain control of strategic positions.
“We must take an excessive force to fight this autocrat, ethnocentric regime, since it has chosen unrest and continual belligerents in the country,” he said in a statement.
Deng added that “The SPLA-IO, shall always refrain from systematic massacres, abuses of human rights and violation of international humanitarian law in all war-fronts of South Sudan,”
His statement comes at a time the exiled opposition leader currently holed-up in Johannesburg South Africa said he is preparing to return to rebel controlled areas outside the capital Juba as he continues to pursue a political solution for the countries long standing crisis.
Analysts says Machar’s coming will help boost moral of his supporters. Others fear that coming back will allow neighboring countries with whom Kiir has won diplomatically to trap him in the jungle and lock him up.
Machar who was declared by the President Kiir regime persona non grata in South Sudan together with top officials in the SPLM-IO called for a return to arms against government whom they accused of illegitimacy after the collapse of the peace agreement.
The government has also issued a media ban against the 63-year-old.
Fighting broke out in South Sudan capital Juba on July 8, 2016 between forces loyal to Riek Machar and those affiliated to president Kiir regime, taring the peace deal, signed after over 20 months of a brutal civil war.
The resumption of fighting left hundreds dead, tens of thousands displaced and a wave of violence.
The anarchy and lawlessness is reportedly taking a tribal course and would result into a genocide between the Ethnic Dinka from where President Kiir hails and the Nuer of Machar.