S. Sudan denies supporting TPLF in ongoing Ethiopia conflict

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir. His government has dismissed claims that it is supporting Ethiopia’s rebel group, the TPLF.

Photo credit: Ashraf Shazly | AFP


Juba

The South Sudanese government has dismissed claims that it is supporting Ethiopia’s rebel group, the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) which has been fighting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration since November 3, 2020.

Addressing journalists after the regular Council of Ministers in Juba over the weekend, Information Minister Michael Makuei said President Salva Kiir would never support the rebel group, citing Ethiopia’s support during the his country’s liberation struggle from Sudan, which he said is unforgettable.

“The people and the government of Ethiopia all these years have been standing with us, and without Ethiopia's government support, we would have not been independent today.

“So, there is no way we can say we are supporting the rebels to overthrow the system in Ethiopia,” said Mr Makuei.

He added that South Sudan already lacks enough resources for its own forces and thus it would be foolhardy to give arms to the Tigray rebels and leave its troops with no weapons.

Mr Makuei assured PM Abiy of South Sudan’s support.

“This we have to make it very clear and assure the government of Ethiopia that we are with them, that we are with the government and the people of Ethiopia and we will never work against them in any way.

“If there are any individuals who might be selling arms, then these are individuals who might have been in possession of their own private firearms,” Mr Makuei said.

Track those selling arms

The Information Minister added that Mr Abiy’s regime should hold to account the alleged people selling arms to TPLF if it can track them.

Two weeks ago, Ethiopian M Abiy defended his frontline actions and declared ‘victory’ over the TPLF.

The premier’s office said that his actions did not negate the need for peace, just that his forces were pushing back against a group he labelled terrorist.

When the national forces first launched attacks on TPLF in November 2020, Abiy declared an end to the operation five weeks later, but the fighting continued.

By late June, the rebels had retaken most of Tigray, including Mekele.

TPLF has in recent weeks claimed they were on a march to Addis Ababa, raising the urgency of ceasefire calls.

On Wednesday last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a swift end to the fighting while on a visit to Colombia to mark the fifth anniversary of a peace deal between the government and former Farc.

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