July 17, 2014 (JUBA) – Over 300 armed youth from South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal state on Wednesday announced they were joining the country’s rebellion led by former vice-president Riek Machar.
- A South Sudanese army (SPLA) soldier holds his rifle near an oil field in Unity state on 22 April 2012 (AP)
In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, the group said they had chosen armed struggle to “rescue the country from disintegrating into tribal units and restore national pride and under a new federal system”.
The group, all of whom are well armed, are said to be from the home guards.
“Our decision to join the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Army in Opposition is essentially rooted for our desire to preserve national pride and one identity. It is a decision borne out of our resolve to rescue the country from disintegrating into tribal units and restore hope and foster peaceful coexistence [for] our people through the restructuring of the country under [a] federal system,” Abdullah Kuot, the group’s spokesperson said.
He claimed the ideology of the rebel group was the driving factor behind the group’s decision to join the rebellion.
“We are all armed. [The] majority of us are well trained soldiers. Those who returned from Jonglei state forms the majority of this group. The rest are forces from Gelweng (home guards),” Kuot said.
The revelation comes barely two weeks after a renowned chief from Gok Machar in Aweil North county went missing. The defection of chief Geng Geng, who now leads the armed youth group, has raised security concerns, with many attributing the disagreement to the 2010 election irregularities.
In series of interviews with Sudan Tribune, government sources said several soldiers were killed at Gotbulo in Northern Bahr el Ghazal in an attempt to block army defectors from Western Bahr el Ghazal from crossing into government-controlled areas.
“Fighting has been going since yesterday (Wednesday). The information we have [is] not comprehensive because we are still [in need of] more details. The current information is that seven comrades have lost their lives,” said a local administrator.
“Two civilians captured by the rebels to show the path and places where there are no government troops were also killed in the fight. One of the rebels was captured, but was later killed and the rebels managed to cross out. The used Umal market called Anger,” added the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
In May, a senior South Sudanese army (SPLA) general from Northern Bahr el Ghazal joined the armed rebellion, a move that shocked many. General Dau Aturjong, who commands the army’s sixth division, declared his defection to the opposition forces at a press conference in Kenya.