Bor — South Sudan's ministry of foreign affairs ministry has labeled Jonglei-based rebel leader David Yau Yau a terroris and requested the international community to charge him for war crimes.
In a statement broadcast on the government-owned radio Tuesday, the ministry's spokesman, Mawien Makol asked for international support to deal with the rebel group that has caused widespread instability in Pibor and surrounding counties.
"South Sudan therefore calls on the international community to live up to its obligations and declare David Yau Yau as [a] war criminal", Makol said.
But the country's foreign minister, in a separate interview, said his government remains committed to peace processes in line with the presidential amnesty granted to the rebels, sharply contradicting statements made by the ministry's spokesperson.
"No, that is not the stand of the government. The peace talk with Yau Yau will go [on] as planned. The presidential amnesty is still holding, we have not labelled him [Yau Yau] as a terrorist", Barnaba Marial Benjamin told Sudan Tribune by phone from the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
Yau Yau's forces have been blamed for numerous attacks on civilians since he first rebelled against the government after loosing his bid to become a Jonglei state MP in April 2010. He accused the government of rigging the elections, later joining forces with late George Athor Deng who began a rebellion in Jonglei's Pigi county the same year.
The rebel leader returned to Juba a year later and was given the rank of major general despite having no previous military experience and having studied to be a clergyman earlier in his career.
However, he soon become dissatisfied with his deal with the Juba government and travelled to Nairobi on what was supposed to be a trip for medical treatment. He never returned to Juba and South Sudan alleges he went to Khartoum to arrange for the latter's support for fresh insurrection from among his own ethnic group, the Murle.
It is believed that he recruited young men from the Nanaam and Kongkong areas on Pibor in August 2012.
Since he begin his rebellion in Jonglei, hundreds of people have either been killed, injured or displaced in the various places his groups targeted.
Human rights groups have reported that the South Sudanese governments response to Yau Yau's rebellion and the cycle of cattle raiding between the Murle and other tribes has targeted Murle civilians.
Despite originally denying any wrong doing earlier this month the army sentenced five soldiers to the death penalty by a military court after they were convicted of murdering civilians in Jonglei.
Two soldiers face prison sentences after being found guilty of rape, while 24 were charged with misconduct due to frequent drinking.
Yau Yau's rebels were accused recently by South Sudanese officials and the commissioner of Twic East county of carrying out an attack that left 80 people dead and 88 others with injuries.
About 24 children were believed to have been abducted in the same attack and close to 25,000 heads of cattle looted from the two villages of Pageer and Maar on 20 October.
Yau Yau has denied his group were responsible for the attack.
In February 2012, five UN soldiers and seven other staff were killed in Jonglei state of Gumuruk Payam in UN convoy that left Pibor for Bor. South Sudan's army in Pibor blamed the rebels for the attack but Yau Yau refuted the allegation.