June 1, 2014 (JUBA) - A South Sudanese army general who recently defected to the opposition forces has explained why he turned down an alleged presidential offer to reinstate him to active service.
- General Dau Aturjong Nyuol (File photo ST)
Speaking exclusively to Sudan Tribune on Saturday, Gen. Dau Aturjong said presidential spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny wanted to meet and convince him to rescind the decision to join rebels led by former vice-president, Riek Machar.
“I have rejected meeting him [Ateny] for three simple reasons. First, Ateny Wek and Yel Luol never allowed me to meet the president whenever I approached them when I was in Juba”, said Gen. Aturjong.
“Secondly, in which capacity he is coming to meet me? Is he coming as an official representative of the government or as individual from Aweil community?” he asked.
The army general, who declared he had joined rebellion on Friday, said he had credible information that Ateny wanted to meet him in his personal capacity, not on behalf of the president or government.
“It was his [Ateny] own initiative and the president allowed him for administrative purpose only, so that he knows where he had gone since he works in his office to avoid inconveniences in case of any need”, the army general told Sudan Tribune.
NOT COMMUNITY AFFAIR
He also dismissed the notion that it was a rebellion launched against the Aweil community of South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, saying these were national matters that should be addressed.
The senior army official, further wondered why the Juba government was now running after him, yet they “refused” to meet him earlier, and blamed president Salva Kiir for allegedly showing no interest in resolving issues that were raised on how he was running the country.
“So why are they running after me now after all they have been refusing meeting and other people. The system in Juba and under president Kiir does not want me this is why I decided to go so that I look for a system which will be ready to listen to our people and address their issues promptly”, said Gen. Aturjong.
The revelation comes hardly a day after several officials confirmed that president Kiir had requested Aweil community leaders and elders to organise a community meeting to address their grievance.
“I know there are issues with Aweil community that need to be discussed and it is better a community meeting is called and I will appreciate being invited to participate because I want these grievances discussed and resolved”, president Kiir reportedly told his national security minister, Gen. Mbuto Mamur Mete on Saturday.
Observers, however, expressed doubts on the possibility of holding a meeting to be addressed by the president on the seemingly existing differences between the community leadership and the newly appointed army chief of general staff, General Paul Malong Awan.
Gen. Awan, a close ally of the president, is viewed as the source of the existing friction with the central government. The Aweil community, who elected him governor in 2010, criticised the manner in which Awan handled state affairs prior to his army elevation.
INJUSTICES AND MARGINALISATION
As to why he joined rebellion, Gen. Aturjong said he wanted to advance the cause for which he abandoned his education to fight against “injustice”, “marginalization” and other “ill practices” meted on South Sudanese by successive Sudanese government in past civil war, which ended after the 2005 peace deal was signed in Kenya.
“I thought we have liberated our people from the northern domination only to realize the revolution had been hijacked by a tyrant dictator upon the death of our leader, late Dr. John Garang de Mabior”, said the defected army general.
The “hijackers”, he stressed, not only marginalised South Sudanese communities, but seriously “terrorized” them.
“They killed many innocent people in 9 years of Salva Kiir’s authoritative rule and dictatorship in Juba. Now I decided to take arms again to liberate my people since the first liberation is hijacked by the tyrant dictator”, said Gen. Aturjong.
He further claimed he had again taken the decision to fight and bring justice, freedom, equality and prosperity to his people, stressing that he has a joined a system with clear vision for the country.
“I am taking arms to transform the country democratically and established a federal system where powers and resources are driven by the people,” said army general-turned rebel.
“Am taking [up] arms to restore rule of law and respect for human rights in my country”, he added.