July 31, 2016 (BENTIU) – At least 30 soldiers and three army generals of the SPLA-IO have defected to the government controlled Bentiu town, in support of the newly appointed First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai. The officers defected from Riek Machar’s faction.
Two generals who defected come from Guit area, the home county of Taban Deng, the First Vice President, following a closed-door meeting on Friday at a remote village of Neemni, a suburb located southwest of Guit county.
The generals include Lt. Gen Dor Monyju,r a former militia’s commander during Sudanese civil war and Maj. Gen Liah Diu, all from Jikany-Nuer of Unity state, who were Gai’s former allies to during a time he was a governor of the state.
Another general who joined is Maj. Gen Makal Kuol Deng and Lt. Col Gatyoai Chidong all from Bul-Nuer and are believed to have escaped on Sunday night according to report.
Major Weirial Puok Baluang, spokesperson for the Machar’s appointed opposition governor of Unity state, has confirmed to Sudan Tribune on Sunday that two generals allied to Gai have disserted the SPLA-IO with few bodyguards and have reported themselves to the government led by President Salva Kiir.
“We would like to inform our people that, Gen. Makal Kuol Deng and Lt. Col Gatnyoai Chidong along with 12 guards deserted sector two at 3:00am night. We believe the intention of the two comrades is to join Taban Deng who is desperately in need of soldiers,” he said.
The opposition appointed commissioner, Maj. General, Hoth Chuol, told Sudan Tribune that his forces clashed with bodyguards of Lt. General Dor Monyjur and Liah Diu, claiming they went away with 30 body guards and heading toward Bentiu town to join President Kiir’s forces.
General Monyjur reportedly left Juba few days ago on the mission Gai sent him to in his home county of Guit to try to woe soldiers on his side in the area, but was reportedly resisted and decided to flee towards Bentiu.
However, a bodyguard of the newly appointed First Vice President, Gai, told Sudan Tribune that there are many generals on the ground who may support his boss, adding “it is just a matter of time, things will turn around.”
He said they are expecting massive defections from the rebel leader Riek Machar’s camp to join them in the peace implementation with President Salva Kiir.
Most people had feared the new first vice president may use the money to bribe the generals and soldiers who were desperately fighting for the last two years and a half without money.