By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
September 6, 2011 (BENTIU) - A major rebel group in South Sudan, which had been based in Mayom county of Unity state, has agreed to relocate to Mapul county of Lakes state in order to be integrated back in to South Sudan’s army (SPLA).
- Peter Gatdet (Centre) is welcome by Martin Machot Deng Mayom commisioner (right) while visiting his troops in Mayom after agreeing a ceasefire with the SPLA. Sept. 2, 2011 (ST)
Peter Gatdet’s forces, which split from the SPLA earlier this year had accused South Sudan’s government of being based on corruption and the domination of the Dinka tribe. Gatdet is from the newly independent country’s second largest tribe, the Nuer.
Last month Gatdet declared a ceasefire accepting the offer of an amnesty given by the country’s President Salva Kiir, when he took office in July.
Bol Gatkuoth the spokesman of the South Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM) told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that their forces had agreed to relocate to Mapel County. Gatkuoth added that the moving out of their stronghold in Unity state was a clear acceptance of the ceasefire.
“Unity State has been a place for many rebels movements, but our going out from it will make both SPLA and SSLA to be in realistic peace talks, and the people of South Sudan shall know we are in acceptance of the amnesty offered by the president of the Republic of South Sudan while taking oath on July 9, as the first president of the new state”.
Rebellions, cattle rustling and ethnic conflicts have accounted for 1,500 deaths and 73,000 displaced in South Sudan in recent months a UN report says.
Gatkuoth said, that South Sudan’s first post-independence cabinet demonstrated that the government is becoming more representative of its diverse population, one of the group’s main issues with the Juba government.
Lack of tribal diversity and leadership skills in South Sudan’s ruling SPLM were two of the main themes in the rebel group’s “Mayom declaration”, which outlined their grievances with Juba.
Handing the ministry’s interior and finance to the Greater Equatoria region gave the government more "balance", he said. He noted that Unity state still did not have a minister in the cabinet but that South Sudan’s vice president Riek Machar hails from the oil-rich state.
As well as the SSLM, the forces of Gatluk Gai have also entered into a ceasefire with the government in Unity state. However, the armed groups belonging to Bapiny Monytuel Wijang and Puljang Top have yet to respond to the president’s amnesty offer.
Unlike Gatdet, most of South Sudan’s rebellions have been triggered by the contested results of elections in April last year.
Tuonguar Kuey Guong a local chief from Bentiu town told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday he was shocked at the tactics the other rebel groups have used in their insurgencies. He said that mining roads in the state had terrorised civilians.
He strongly called upon the groups still in the bush to follow the example taken by Gatdet and end hostilities.
Gatdet’s ceasefire has been welcomed at home and in the Diaspora as it was feared the SSLM could destabilise the whole region.