South Sudan Says General’s Arrest Is Not Linked to Coup Plot

South Sudan’s military dismissed speculation that an attempted coup in the East African nation was the reason for the arrest of an army general.

Major-General Simon Gatwec Dual is in military custody after being arrested earlier this month, Colonel Kella Dual Kueth, a spokesman for the South Sudanese army, said in a phone interview today from Juba, the capital. The army is forming a commission of inquiry to investigate Dual, he said.

The Sudan Tribune, a Paris-based online news agency, reported today that there had been “serious rumors” of a coup plot in South Sudan by unidentified army officers. “There was nothing like a coup,” Kueth said. “It’s just rumors.”

President Salva Kiir has led South Sudan since May 2010, after winning 93 percent of the vote in an election in April of that year. His country gained independence from Sudan last year, following a referendum on secession that was part of a peace agreement that ended a 21-year civil war in which 2 million people died.

Kueth said Kiir yesterday gave a speech at Bilpam, the military headquarters outside Juba, in which he told soldiers that anyone who wants to change the government should do so by running for office in elections scheduled for 2015. Coup plotters would have difficulty gaining recognition by the international community, he said.

The speech wasn’t directed at anyone involved in a possible plot to overthrow the government, Kueth said.

Kiir also said Dual may have links with a militia in the restive Jonglei state led by David Yau Yau, according to the Sudan Tribune. Kueth said earlier this month the army is planning an operation to hunt members of Yau Yau’s militia after it fired artillery at army positions on Sept. 29.

Yau Yau’s militia killed at least 24 soldiers in an August attack, the army said, contributing to increasing insecurity in a state already beset by ethnic violence and deadly cattle raids.

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