FILE - Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni reacts during a
news conference at the Nakasero State Lodge in the capital
Kampala, October 16, 2011 (Reuters)
The Ugandan government on Thursday denied allegations leveled by a rebel group in South Sudan that it was involved in the killing of its leader on Monday by the Sudan people Liberation Army (SPLA).
The South Sudan Vice president Riek Machar said on Tuesday that SPLA shot General George Athor in Central Equatoria state along with one of his aides on a mission to recruit people to join his movement.
Athor defected from the SPLA in 2010 following his loss in the gubernatorial elections in Jonglei state.
The South Sudan’s Democratic Movement/Army (SSDM/A) issued a statement in response to its leader’s death claiming that Uganda president Yoweri Musevini conspired against Athor.
“George Athor was killed by Ugandans. He left from his headquarters on Saturday with Ugandan plane to meet President Museveni to discuss how Uganda could assist the people of South Sudan to resolve the ongoing conflict with Juba’s regime. George Athor left with Major Thomas Duoth Makuach (American citizen), who was his assistant for Kampala. He arrived in Kampala at 2 pm Saturday afternoon. He was scheduled to meet President Museveni on Sunday” said the statement sent to Sudan Tribune by email that was signed by Maj. Gen. Bapiny Monytuil, Deputy Head of SSDA.
“We talked to Athor and Thomas Duoth when they arrived on Saturday. But we lost contact with them from Sunday onwards until we saw their dead bodies on South Sudan TV. President Museveni killed George Athor. The SSDA and SSLA military High Commands will have emergency meeting tomorrow to devise plans to revenge the killing of Athor. He was killed by Ugandans and Museveni will dearly pay for that. The SSLA and SSDA will teach Museveni a lesson he will never forget in his life”.
Uganda’s Presidential Spokesman Mirundi Tamale told the Kampala-based Daily Monitor by telephone that the accusations leveled by SSDA are “statements of enemies who want to drag the name of the President [Museveni] in their conflict”.
“President Museveni has been involved in many reconciliation efforts across Africa, and does not believe in assassination of enemies”.
“It [the allegation] is not true, said Tamale, “It does not bear any reality to our historical links”. He declined to confirm or deny whether the Musevini-Athor meeting took place on Sunday as stated.
“In any case, he was not fighting Uganda but South Sudan. So why would Uganda kill him?”
The SSDM/A issued a new statement today reiterating their accusations and claiming that Musevini used his peace initiative as a trap for unsuspecting Athor. “Sources within Ugandan intelligent community, who were in contact with members of SSDM/A after the death of Athor, revealed that President Museveni gave order to military officers to assassinate him at 10:20pm on Saturday”.
“The Ugandan military intelligent officers, who were ordered to carry out the plot, waited until George Athor and Thomas Duoth went to bed. Approximately at 1:45 am, on December, 18, armed units busted into the rooms and shot each one of them on the head”.
“After the assassinations were complete, they collected their bodies and took them to a military barrack outside Kampala. On Monday, December, 19, 2011, the bodies of Athor and Thomas Duoth were put in one pickup Toyota and taken to border near Morobo County of South Sudan. The Ugandan military intelligent officers handed them over to the SPLA military intelligent officer, Maj. Gen. Mach Paul. The Ugandans instructed the SPLA to announce in the media that Athor was captured while trying to recruit people in Morobo so that nobody would accuse Uganda of being behind his assassination”.
The rebel movement said that “the assassination of Athor, by a head of state after being officially invited, is the first incident in African continent”.
South Sudan split away from Sudan in July under a peace deal that ended decades of civil war with Khartoum, but the young, oil-producing country has struggled with multiple armed uprisings.