By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
August 10, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – A senior official from the South Sudanese army (SPLA) has defected to the country’s treble forces led by former vice-president Riek Machar, rebel officials in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
Major general Dau Deng Ahecyol said he had decided to join Machar’s SPLM/A in Opposition as South Sudan’s ruling SPLM party under the leadership of president Salva Kiir had failed to bring peace and development to the young African nation.
Ahecyol has vowed to fight for regime change either through dialogue or military means to ensure peace and stability are restored in the fractured country.
The former deputy operation general in Jonglei state also accused Kiir of failing to unite the South Sudanese peoples, calling for his immediate removal.
“I believe that it is the time to overthrow the dictatorial regime in Juba,” he said
The SPLA has been hit by a series of defections to the rival rebel faction since the conflict erupted in the mid-December last year, including the desertion of dozens of top generals.
Military officials in Juba have blamed the protracted delay in salary payments as one of the major causes for the growing number of defections.
Ahecyol said he hoped his defection would encourage more members of the SPLA to abandon Kiir’s “failed regime” and join the rebel faction.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than a million displaced since the eruption of conflict almost eight months ago.
Rebels claim Kiir bears responsibility for the deaths of over 20,000 people who they allege were killed by his presidential guard forces, also known as the Tiger Battalion.
Conflict initially flared in the capital, Juba, after a political rift turned violent, quickly spreading to other regions throughout the country.
The fighting has pitted government troops loyal to Kiir against rebel and ethnic militia forces aligned with Machar.