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Machar Rebels Speak Out on Defection of Army General

South Sudan armed opposition allied to the former First Vice-President Riek Machar has downplayed reports claiming the defection of Brigadier Gen. David Okot to Juba faction.

Col. Lam Paul, the deputy rebel spokesperson said the defected general had actually some issue with his command and preferred to join the SPLM-IO faction led First Vice President Taban Deng Gai instead of appearing before his military superiors after his summon.

Okot was the commander of Magwi Brigade, but lost command of his forces due to indiscipline cases, said the rebel spokesperson.

“He was called to report to division HQ, but he refused and went camping in Uganda. Otim David his clansman convinced him to go to Juba for his security in the (refugee) camp”, he reportedly said.

The rebel spokesperson further denied any knowledge about soldiers linked with the dismissed official.

However, he admitted he left with two other officers to the refugee camp in Uganda and later was joined by his family members to escort him to Kampala.

“What we know he didn’t have forces around him when he left. All his forces had moved to the Anyanya division. He went with two soldiers and the others are his relatives from Agoro clan,” Lam added.

On Tuesday Mr Okot and four other officials declared their allegiance to Gai SPLM-IO Juba faction at South Sudan Embassy, in Kampala.

SPLM-IO under the current First Vice President Taban Deng Gai claimed Okot reported himself with 2000 soldiers.

Footage of their declaration was broadcast by the Uganda Media, National Television or NTV on Wednesday.

General Okot is one of the well-known Generals within Machar faction’s Army.

Okot was a commander in charge of Magwi Brigade 9th in Anyanya division in Eastern Equatoria.

Since South Sudan has fallen back into a bloody civil war in December 2013, some 1.8 million civilians fled to neighbouring countries.

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