Home Main Story South Sudan: Several SPLA-IO Kitgwang Soldiers Rejoin Machar

South Sudan: Several SPLA-IO Kitgwang Soldiers Rejoin Machar

Dr. Riek Machar - leader of the SPLA-IO

Dozens of officers and soldiers have defected from Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual’s SPLA-IO Kitgwang faction to First Vice President Rick Machar in Uror County in Jonglei State, military officials said.

Maj Gen. Moses Biel Rom, said on Monday that their decision to rejoin the main SPLA-IO led by Dr. Machar was for the sake of peace in Uror.

“I defected alongside another general with 80 officers, 30 soldiers, and 50 police officers on Saturday,” Gen Biel said. “Now, I am at an SPLA-IO base in Pertet and these forces with me abandoned Kitgwang bases in Pieri and Juet of Yuai town. I do not have any problem with Gen. Gatwec Dual. I had some misunderstandings here with some officers but I do not want to go through details.”

“So, I just want to announce that I have defected for the sake of peace and I will from tomorrow move to the SPLA-IO cantonment site in Motot,” he added.

Lt. Kuony Malual Koryom of the SPLA-IO faction loyal to Dr. Machar confirmed the receipt of the defectors.

“The numbers which I received here at Pertet are 82 with various ranks from the police and army,” he said.

Meanwhile, Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, the SPLA-IO military spokesperson, welcomed the defection but said that they were yet to receive official reports at the general military headquarters in Juba.

“As SPLA-IO, we welcomed these defections in Uror because it will bring peace in Uror and we will always welcome anyone coming back so long as it is for peace,” he said.

For his part, Lt Gen. Tunyang Gatkal, the commander of the SPLA-IO Kitgwang faction in Uror, downplayed the defection as an “exaggeration”.

“Gen. Biel took permission to visit his family in Pertet in March. He left with no forces. The forces are with me,” he said. “Maybe he recruited civilians in his village as officers but we are intact here and I am not officially aware of his defection which he is announcing with exaggeration in the media.”



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