The South Sudanese government on Monday declared former Army Chief of Staff, Paul Malong, a rebel and also accused him of being behind a series of attacks on December 29.
Mr. Malong, who had led President Salva Kiir’s campaign against rebels, has been under house arrest since May after Mr. Kiir sacked him following a string of military resignations by senior generals alleging abuses and ethnic bias.
Mr. Malong initially fled the capital Juba for his home state of Aweil following his dismissal, raising the possibility he might join opposition forces, before returning to Juba.
His loyalists started joining rebels and in November, Mr. Kiir released Mr. Malong to exile in Kenya.
South Sudan, which became the world’s newest country after splitting from Sudan in 2011, plunged into war in late 2013 after Mr. Kiir sacked his deputy, Riek Machar.
The dispute erupted into fighting that spread across the country, largely along ethnic lines between forces loyal to Messrs. Kiir and Machar.
Mr. Kiir’s spokesman, Ateny Ateny, said Mr. Malong was ordering his commanders in South Sudan to attack the government.
He cited an audio recording obtained by its intelligence services.
“Malong is a former chief of staff of the army but in accordance with the tape, he’s a rebel.
“The government and the security committee will come with an appropriate response,” he told a news conference.
Lucy Ayak, Mr. Malong’s wife, said the accusations were baseless.
“This audio is a fake audio recording,“ she said from Nairobi.
“Every time government is accusing him that he wants to launch an attack, which is not true.
On December 29, clashes broke out near Juba between government troops and rebels, the latest violation of a ceasefire signed in December.
The deal reached in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa between Mr. Kiir’s government and a myriad of opposition groups had aimed to end the four-year-old war in which tens of thousands of people have been killed.