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South Sudan rebels allied to Machar
wary of defections to rival group   

JUBA, (Xinhua) -- Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in opposition (SPLA-IO) led by former first vice president Riek Machar on Wednesday expressed fear of losing  some of it’s top officers to the recently formed National Salvation Front (NSF) led by a renegade general.

Former South Sudan army (SPLA) deputy chief of logistics Lt. General Thomas Cirillo Swaka who heads NSF is behind defections of several high-ranking rebel officials.

These developments have stirred up unease in the SPLA-IO camp for fear of being usurped as the most vibrant group fighting to topple President Salva Kiir’s regime, since fighting broke out in December 2013.

“Some generals from SPLA-IO declared their allegiance to the (NSF) new movement. But we thought General Thomas Cirillo could have first consulted our leadership because we share the objective, but now they seem to form their movement against us,”  Colonel William Gatjiath the SPLA-IO spokesman told Xinhua in an interview.

“But the only lion in the bush of South Sudan is SPLA-IO because we deployed our sectors and divisions all over the south Sudan. Nobody could form different entity without cooperating with the SPLA-IO,” he added.

In his March 11 resignation letter to Machar, Colonel Nyarji Roman, former deputy spokesman in the office of the latter, castigated the SPLA-IO top leadership’s conduct leading to death of rebel soldiers.

“We were not taken seriously when some of us tried to warn you of possible attack by the government on July 4. You (Machar) ignored the warning and as a result, many of our soldiers ended up losing their lives,” the letter said.

Nyarji also disclosed that for over three years, Machar failed to supply SPLA-IO forces in Equatoria region with arms and logistical support that caused the death of two prominent generals Martin Kenyi and Elias Lino Jada.

Meanwhile, the South Sudanese Minister of Information Michael Makuei, said the rebels are in disarray after being overpowered and that they were in control of large swathes of the country.

“There is a misconception that government of South Sudan is nothing than an island in Juba. This is not true but hearsay,” he said.

He also dismissed the new NSF rebellion led by General Cirilo as inconsequential.

“Cirillo with his (NSF) declaration is brief case movement, there is no way if you are a real leader you call for people to join (rebellion) from the refugees camps,” Makuei said.

The rebel factions could lead to factional fighting like the January fighting between SPLA-IO and former agriculture minister Lam Akol’s led group that led to death of two generals.

“It (fighting) happened to Dr. Lam Akol who formed his movement and we (SPLA-IO) dismantled his movement and killed the two top generals. This may twist itself to Thomas Cirilo, all those generals claiming to join him have no forces, but left the movement in search of money,” Gatjiath revealed.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013, following political dispute between president Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar resulting in killing of tens of thousands and displacement of more than two million.

However, renewed July fighting in 2016 threatened to tear apart the fragile 2015 peace agreement to end the conflict. 


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