SPLA-IO demands immediate release of officers detained in Unity State

SPLA-IO demands immediate release of officers detained in Unity State
SPLM-IO spokesperson Lam Paul.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) is demanding for release of the 24 officers it still claims are being detained in Koch County, Unity State.

The officers were reportedly detained last week for resisting to pledge allegiance to Lt. Gen. Simon Maguek, a former SPLA-IO sector two commander who defected to the SSPDF in October 2023. The army general cited frustration after Angelina Teny was appointed the minister of interior.

Speaking to The City Review, the spokesperson of SPLA-IO, Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, claimed the soldiers were still under detention and being threatened to declare their allegiance to SSPDF.

“We need the full release of these soldiers and we need to be able to communicate with them directly so that we make this public that they are released,” Lam said.

“SPLA-IO soldiers are still under threat to join SSPDF in Koch. This is not only in Koch; you have heard recently the acting governor of Unity State wrote a letter requesting the SPLA-IO board of command to go to different places. Deputy governor does not have any right to order the SPLA-IO generals to relocate to another area,” he added.

“It is the responsibility of the joint defence forces, not the governor. So, we just hope for the best,” he said.

He said the SPLA-IO would continue to follow up on the case with the leadership of the Chief Defence Forces in Juba.

“But this kind of behaviour prosecution by Unity State against the SPLA-IO is not acceptable, and we will not tolerate it. We will pursue this further with the leadership in Juba and also with the command,” he stated.

He emphasised that the SPLA-IO soldiers are in support of the agreement and need to be respected just like they respect the SSPDF forces.

“The SPLA-IO soldiers that were arrested in Koch County need to be released as soon as possible. They are created like any other soldiers or forces to the agreement. Just like we respect the SSPDF and we respect the national police, our soldiers deserve to be respected, like any other force that is supposed to protect the integrity of this country,” he stressed.

“That is the mandate of the movement as a party. We are not supposed to be fighting ourselves,” he said.

Col. Lam said the first meeting between the Joint Defence Board to the agreement in 2018 was to ensure that the peace agreement was safeguarded.

“We are supposed to be looking at [how to prevent] external aggression, all of us. Our first meeting as a joint defence board was to make sure that the peace agreement is protected and the government, which includes whoever is in this agreement, needs to be defended, beginning with the president,” he stated.

“So, if the SPLA-IO can work hard to make sure that this government is not stuck, If we were able to do some operations with the SSPDF in some areas, then why should we attack ourselves because of some politicians in Unity State?” he lamented.

However, James Tut, Koch County Police commissioner, denied having a hand in arresting the soldiers, saying there were no SPLA-IO officers arrested in the county.

“No SPLA-IO soldiers came to Koch and were arrested. If they are saying I arrested their soldiers, why should I do that? They need to be specific about where they were arrested, not here in Koch,” he said.