South Sudan rebels vow to fight on

2011-12-21 20:15
Juba - South Sudanese rebels will continue their fight against the newly independent government in Juba despite the killing of their leader George Athor, his spokesperson said on Wednesday.

"To me, the mission is alive," said James Puot. "Only one man has died."

South Sudanese Vice President Riek Machar announced on Tuesday that Athor was killed when a border patrol clashed with "elements" accompanying him in Morobo County on Monday.

Athor had sneaked back in to South Sudan through neighbouring countries and was on a recruiting drive in Central Equatoria state, Machar said.

South Sudan had accused Athor of acting on behalf of Sudan in a bid to destabilise the country, which won independence in July, five years after the end of a two-decade civil war with Khartoum.

Athor, who fought for the southern rebels and reached the rank of general in their army before turning renegade in 2010, denied being backed by Khartoum.

South Sudanese citizens rejoiced at Athor's killing and said it should herald a more peaceful environment for the impoverished nation.

But Puot said someone will be found to take Athor's place.

"Very soon we will nominate a new leader", he said.

Athor rebelled in April 2010 after claiming electoral fraud cheated him out of the governor's post in Jonglei state.

His body was expected to arrive in the capital Juba on Wednesday, South Sudanese military spokesperson Philip Aguer said.
Read more on:    south sudan  |  east africa  |  security

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