Kiir directs army to quell Upper Nile fighting

President Salva Kiir has ordered for deployment of the unified forces in the conflict-prone areas of Upper Nile to curtail the fighting in the region, the presidential press secretary has said.

Since 2021, there have been military clashes in the areas of Upper Nile involving the armed forces of SPLM-IO Kitwang factions of Simon Gatwich and Johnson Olony, SPLM-IO of Dr. Riak and SSPDF – which have claimed dozens of lives and displaced thousands.

Thousands of civilians have been reportedly displaced in the latest clashes, which erupted in Fashoda and Manyo counties in late November.

Nine thousand people, majority of whom are women and children, have fled to Melut County; others have crossed over to Sudan, according to UNOCHA.

On Tuesday, President Salva Kiir told members of the ruling party, SPLM, that there was nothing he could do about the fighting in the region.

But in a press statement, Lilly Adhieu said Kiir’s utterances had been taken “out of context”.

“The statement does not mean that President Kiir is willfully neglecting what is taking place in that region, nor does it imply his government’s inability to solve the problem,” argued Adhieu.

She said the President had directed the Chief of Defense Forces, Gen Santino Deng Wol, to take swift action on the matter.

“The president has already directed the CDF to deploy unified SSPDF in the area to protect the civilians,” she added.

The clashes, which officials say are ongoing in the Shilluk Kingdom and Eastern Nuer areas, are between forces loyal to SPLA-IO splinter groups under Gen Johnson Olony and Gen Simon Gatwech.