Twelve army officers with South Sudan’s main opposition group, SPLA-IO, on Friday defected to South Sudan United Movement/Army (SSUM/A) under Denay Jock Chagor in Uror County of Jonglei State.
The defectors are led by Major Joseph Tut Turuok.
Major Tur told South Sudanese local radio station on Sunday that they abandoned SPLA-IO under First Vice President Riek Machar over marginalization.
“We defected from SPLA-IO under Riek Machar to join SSUM/A because of our interest. We have been in SPLA-IO since 2014, and since the agreement was signed, some of us who are officers felt that we are left out,” he said. “So, we decided that we defect. We are 12 officers who defected.”
For his part, Wany Bum, a senior member of SSUM, confirmed the receipt of the defectors.
“On 23 this month, a group of officers affiliated to SPLA-IO under Dr. Machar pledged their allegiance to SSUM under the chairmanship of Denay Jock Chagor. We received and welcomed them, and now they are part and parcel of our forces,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Khor Nyang Mabor, a spokesperson of the SPLA-IO’s third sector based in Jonglei, downplayed the defection.
“As a sector three command, we don’t have any report about such defection. It is something that needs to be confirmed if it happened,” he said. “But in our command, we don’t have such ranks. Sometimes, those are militia groups who give themselves ranks when integrated.”