Allegations of SSDF Abuses in Juba
The SSDF in 1998 moved its military headquarters to Juba, the main city in southern Sudan located in Eastern Equatoria far to the south of Unity state and the oil fields.199 Shortly after its arrival, however, the SSDF wore out its welcome. The governors of three states asked that they be removed, on the grounds that the SSDF forces were Aunruly.@ Governor Henry Jada of Bahr El-Jabal state said that the militiamen had been a source of insecurity there. He described a series of human rights abuses committed against the civilian population.
>They have been shooting in the air every night, harassing people, robbing people and raping girls and other peoples= wives. . . . Many of them took goods from market traders without paying for them. When the traders ask for their money, they say go and ask Riek.=200
The governor complained that the factions frequently clashed amongst themselves and some had been killed in a feud in Juba in November.201
Riek Machar defended his troops in Juba, saying that reports of their misbehavior were greatly exaggerated. He rejected calls for their removal, and pointed out that they had been busy defending Juba and Equatoria from an SPLA attack.202
Finally, after six militiamen were killed and several wounded in a grenade attack in Juba on January 9, 1999, the government ordered all pro-government armed factions to leave Juba. Governor Henry Jada said an unidentified attacker hurled the grenade at a Murle militia camp,203 and the government suspected Riek=s faction of the crime. Jada claimed Riek=s group also exchanged fire with another faction in January 11.204 The SSDF deputy chief of staff said if such an incident occurred it was a tribal clash and had nothing to do with the SSDF.205 The commander of the government army in Equatoria denied anyone was killed but said several were injured before the government troops contained the situation, and that only two pro-government factions were ordered out of Juba.206 Further contributing to the confused situation, a militia leader in Juba, Gatwich Gat Kouth, said he had pulled out of the SSDF with half the SSDF forces in Juba, and formed a separate faction, SSDF-2, because of Riek=s alleged human rights abuses. These included an alleged assassination attempt on him, and the killing of his mother and bodyguard in a December 20 attack on Gatwich=s home in Juba.207
199 "Sudan militia commanders to move to Juba,@ Reuters, Khartoum, September 3, 1998.
200 Alfred Taban, ASudanese authorities seek to evict unruly militias,@ Reuters, Khartoum, December 3, 1998.
202 Alfred Taban, ASudan militia leader condemns disarmament,@ Reuters, Khartoum, December 7, 1998.
203 The Murle militia is based on the Murle ethnic group, from the Ethiopian-Sudan border south of Akobo.
204 "Sudanese pro-government militia clash in Juba,@ Reuters, Khartoum, January 12, 1999.
205 "Pro-government factions fight in Sudan,@ AFP, Khartoum, January 12, 1999.
206 "Pro-government militias ordered out of south Sudan=s main town,@ AFP, Khartoum, January 15, 1999.
207 Alfred Taban, ASudan militia splits from pro-government coalition,@ Reuters, Khartoum, January 21, 1999.