Pagak/Addis Ababa, December 31, 2016 (SSNA) – The office of the Spokesman for South Sudanese armed opposition forces has denied reports that some SPLA-IO Generals have defected and joined a splinter group led by the First Vice President Taban Deng Gai.
Sudan Tribune (ST) reported Friday that a group of the SPLA-IO Generals and officers have defected to Gai’s faction.
“We have switched our support to First Vice President of South Sudan and Commander in Chief of SPLM/SPLA-IO, Taban Deng and to petroleum minister, Ezekiel Lol Gatkouth, for the implementation of the peace agreement. We have concluded that Machar has failed to lead the SPLM/SPLA-IO movement into the right direction,” the group told ST.
However, the office of the rebel military Spokesman denied the defection report. In a statement obtained by the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA), the armed opposition military command says there is no such a thing as defection, adding some of individuals named in the report were in the SPLA-IO but dismissed long time ago because they were parts of the First Vice President group.
“The leadership of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) would like to inform the people of South Sudan and the world at large that none of the generals from SPLA/IO in Pagak defected to Taban affiliated group,” the statement reads in part.
“This is a groundless report with no evident,” the SPLA-IO states.
In the document, the office of the SPLA-IO states that Michael Paul Dak, Mun Bach Thoch, and Dobuol Wuor Diew who identified themselves in the report as officers are not even known in the armed opposition military hierarchy, adding that the individuals have been roaming between refugee camps and Gambella region of Ethiopia after they fail to join their leader Taban Deng Gai in Juba.
“These officers were dismissed from SPLM/A-IO long time ago along with General Taban and they have been roaming around all this time between Kule One Refugees camp and Gambella of Ethiopia since they got no chance to reach Juba where their master bases. This could be a big mistake of misinforming the public, misleading and misrepresenting their position as members of SPLA-IO,” the document further explained.
Major Dickson Gatluak Jock, Deputy Spokesperson for the SPLA-IO also disclosed that a Sudanese rebel movement known as Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) which has in the past been accused of supporting South Sudan’s government is being supply with weapons, food, and ammunition by Kiir’s government. Jock added that there are currently 21 Matrix trucks coming from Uganda to Nuba Mountains.
The armed opposition declared there is no physical act of defection in rebel headquarters Pagak and that nobody even hears the defection report because the people claiming to be deserting the SPLM/A-IO have no credibility or capacity within the rebel movement.