January 27, 2014 (RUMBEK) – At least 200 rebels surrendered to the South Sudanese army (SPLA) in Unity state on Saturday, days after losing control of the capital, Bentiu to the latter.
- A Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) tank in Bor (Reuters/James Akena))
Mabek Lang, the deputy caretaker governor said majority of those who surrendered were initially part of the army’s fourth division, which was headed by Maj-Gen. James Koang Chuol.
“Many of them did not have the destructive intentions and are welcome back. We received 250 on Thursday, including 32 armed personnel who surrendered on Friday,” said Lang.
“We welcome them back and [the] military is taking care of those army personnel who put down their arms”, he added.
A military official told Sudan Tribune that the army was still pursuing those rebelling against government, including its dissent commanders like Peter Gadet Yaak.
“We appreciate Unity state leaders for their support to South Sudan army, we will protect them. If we need to kill Peter Gadet, it is easy, but we need him to surrender otherwise, he will face tough decision,” said the officer, who preferred anonymity.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the army said those who deserted, having been misled to take part in the rebellion, would be accepted back into active service.
“We welcome those soldiers returning back to SPLA army. In fact there were those soldiers who joined the rebellion due to fear of unknown, some joined when they saw their colleagues joining the rebellion, but their aims were not clear,” said Phillip Aguer.
“They are welcomed back to join the service of the nation,” he added.
South Sudan’s warring parties on Thursday signed a ceasefire agreement to end six weeks of fighting, in which over 1,000 people have died and half a million displaced.