A court-martial began on Monday to try a Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) general accused of treason and attempting to rebel against President Salva Kiir’s government.
Stephen Buoy Rolnyang is charged with “treason” offenses related to insecurity” and for disobeying his hierarchy,” said deputy spokesman for the South Sudanese army, Santo Domic Chol.
The general was arrested in May 2018 in Mayom, in the former Unity State (north), after refusing to report to army headquarters in Juba as ordered, according to the same source.
“It is the prerogative of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the Chief of Staff to ensure that justice is done in matters relating to insecurity,” the spokesman said.
However, a trial against such a high-ranking officer is extremely rare in Southern Sudan. This is only the second time a general has appeared before a court for treason since the beginning of the civil war in 2013.
In early 2014, a Juba court tried four high-ranking politicians, including two generals, for attempted coup d‘état, who then created the influential “former political prisoners” movement, which signed the 2018 peace agreement. They were then released without having served their sentence and pardoned.
General Buoy’s defense obtained a ten-day postponement of the trial on the grounds that the court was composed only of members of ranks lower than their client, who has the right to demand that the President of the Court have the rank of general.
Southern Sudan sank into civil war in December 2013, when President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, accused Riek Machar, his former vice-president, of ethnic nudity, of plotting a coup d‘état.
The conflict, marked by ethnic atrocities and the use of rape as a weapon of war, has killed more than 380,000 people according to a recent study, and forced more than four million South Sudanese, or nearly one-third of the population, to flee.