October 8, 2013 (JUBA) - The leadership council of the former rebel South Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM) say they fully support president Salva Kiir’s recent move to reconcile different groups in quest for unity.
- South Sudan president Salva Kiir (AP)
The group, in a statement, claimed Kiir decision to integrate other armed group under his former deputy Paulino Matip Nhial, into South Sudan army (SPLA) in 2006, saved the referendum during the transitional period and led to the creation of the new state in 2011.
“When President Kiir signed Juba Declaration with late Maj. Gen. Paulino Matip in 2006, there were officers within the SPLA army who opposed the unity of the people of South Sudan. However, President Kiir imposed unity in the country and South Sudan Defense Forces of Paulino Matip were all integrated into the organized forces of South Sudan”, the statement said in part.
The ex-rebel council also welcomed the president’s latest decision to pardon Gabriel Tanginye, Gatwec Dual, Thomas Mabor Dhol, Gatwec Joak and the leader of the opposition United Democratic Front, Peter Abdel Rahman Sule.
Those pardoned through the president’s decree issued Monday had been in detention for close to three years for various crimes ranging from supporting a rebellion and alleged plot to overthrow the Juba establishment.
However, while the former rebel council see the order as a commitment on the part of president to unite the country, critics attribute it to a late attempt by the south-ruling party (SPLM) to rally support from voters in areas where the former detainees hail from.
In April this year, the president also issued a similar order pardoning all rebels fighting the government of South Sudan to pave the way for the unity of the country. As a result, the faction under the leadership of Bapiny Monytuil Wecjang responded to the amnesty and accepted peace in the south, but last month, the group under Ayuok Ogot and Gordon Koang Chol changed their minds and abandoned the peace process initiated by Kiir.
Meanwhile, the former rebel council said the move to pardon the ex-foes ushers in the new nation an era of peace and tranquility.
“This order of peace will soon be extended to Jonglei State where negotiations are underway between the government and the forces of David Yau Yau. There is no question that the peace which has now prevailed in Unity and Upper Nile states shall be extended to Jonglei state so that civilians will enjoy peace and development,” partly reads the ex-rebel council statement.
The only way for the government of South Sudan to deliver services to the people is to secure a sustainable peace in the rural areas of South Sudan so that construction of roads shall not be interrupted by any form of violence, it added.
The group also appeals to the international community to support the government of South Sudan financially, morally and diplomatically to integrate all former rebels into the organized forces of South Sudan.
“Nation-building through cultivation of peace requires a lot of investment in humans as well as infrastructure,” it noted.