SSPDF Commander refutes Congo battalion rebellion claim

By Mary Poni

Col. Johnson Malual, the peace mission commander of South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) battalion designated for DR Congo said there is no case of revolt among the forces.

Speaking to No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper yesterday on phone, the SSPDF peace mission commander dismissed rumors circulating on social media – terming it as a fictitious report.

He affirmed that the forces under his command are still in Mundri – awaiting travel documents for entry in to Congo.

Col. Malual was reacting to rumors surfacing on social media that SSPDF battalion meant for Congo have returned and established defensive position in Yei – allegedly waiting for any slightest provocation. They are allegedly enraged after their upkeep money amounting to $1,000 was slashed in to half.

 “There is no such an amount given to the soldiers. How comes? And where is the money coming from? We received nothing, not even one dollar” Malual wondered.

“The money is still not given to us and if there is a pocket allowance of $1,000, even if we got $500 – still we will be happy. But there is no such sum given to the force” he added.

Johnson revealed that their upkeep money is still being paid by the government of South Sudan; not until the East African Community (EAC) is going to take over. But as of now, every country is responsible for its own force.

When asked how much each solider is supposed to receive, Malual said, “I cannot tell how much each soldier will be paid. But it will later be announced when the government got something that will be given to us”.

He further noted that his forces did not sign any contract, but are simply assigned for the mission to DR Congo. 

“In the SSPDF, we didn’t sign contracts; we were just given a mission as a force, unlike other countries,” he stated.

The commander stressed that whoever is spreading fake news is an enemy concocting barbaric information on the social media just to cause confusion to the nation.

On the same note, the SSPDF spokesperson Maj-Gen. Lul Ruai  Koang said that the information circulating on social media is not true because the troops are still within the country.

He stated that the force is still managed by the government of South Sudan under the leadership of the SSPDF commander Johnson Malual.

 “Each soldier is supposed to receive 1,000 USD as pocket money. But the commander gave each soldier only 500 USD”, the statement in part on social media.

“As a result, the force mutinied and returned to Yei where they surrounded themselves with all the military equipped supplied to them for the mission” it continued.

On Wednesday 28th December 2022, President Salva Kiir saw off over 700 soldiers expected to depart to the Democratic Republic of Congo for the regional peacekeeping mission.

The SSPDF soldiers from different units are now part of the East Africa regional taskforce.

They battalion consisting of military police, military intelligence, signal corps, engineering corps, and administration, logistics and infantry units had undergone four months of training in Juba.

Travel documents delay SSPDF mission to Congo

South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF) spokesman, Major General Lul Ruai – Photo by William M Garang

On the other hand,South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) attributed the delay in the arrival of the 753 SSPDF’s battalion to its destination in Eastern DR. Congo peace mission to travel documentation.

The SSPDF’s Spokesperson Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai told No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper that the troops are currently stationed in Mundri County of WES, awaiting their traveling documents to be processed.

“The troops are currently in Mundri County of Western Equatoria. We are yet processing their traveling documents” Lul said.

When asked for affirmation of the spokesperson’s comment, the commander of SSPDF peace mission to Congo, Col. Johnson Malual also confirmed that they are still in Mundri waiting for their travel papers.

“Going outside the country always needs document because we are going to a foreign country. So, the statement that has been given by our spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai is correct” Malual said.

Col. Malual said his troops are now processing passports and other migration documents, when they are printed, they would be able to enter Congo in nearest future.

“After processing our travelling documents, nothing will hinder our movement, and if they are processed, we will be moving freely after that” he declared.

He said things to do with the army are always under the command of the army leader, and directly under his command as the troop’s commander.

Fighting has been raging in the East as the M23 rebel group makes territorial advances, sending tens of thousands of people fleeing from their homes.

Over 120 armed groups are active across the mineral-rich eastern Congo, many of them a legacy of regional wars that flared at the turn of the century.

The M23 rose to prominence in 2012 when it captured the main Eastern city of Goma, before being driven out and going to ground.

The East African countries resolved to deploy joint military personnel to bolster the efforts of the DRC army.

Burundi and Kenya have sent their troops and Uganda is expected to deploy its soldiers in the coming weeks. While South Sudan is expected after their travel documents are processed.

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