September 11, 2016 (JUBA) - The former deputy governor of South Sudan’s Upper Nile state, John Ivo Mounto, confirmed on Sunday his defection to the armed opposition faction under the leadership of Riek Machar, charging that the country will never be at peace if President Salva Kiir continues to play a central role in the affairs of the young nation.
- Rebel commander Brig General Joseph Gai Gatluak (left) pictured in front of his troops in Upper Nile state’s Manyo county in March 2015 (ST)
Mounto told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that he was now on the way to his base after holding a press conference in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Thursday at which he declared his decision to leave the government due to serious atrocities committed against innocent citizens by government troops.
“You don’t understand who is in control. Is it the chief of general staff or President Salva Kiir or Jieng council of elders? It is like the country is being run like individual property, and more especially the way the soldiers have been committing serious atrocities, killing innocent people, raping young ladies and even to an extent of raping lactating mothers, women who have just delivered, which is totally morally wrong and unacceptable in South Sudanese cultures,” charged Mounto, who hails from Maban county in Upper Nile state.
The official said forceful displacements of local residents have taken place yet the government did not do anything but instead decided to remain silent or deny any knowledge of such events.
“The country is facing insurmountable challenges. People are dying of hunger because there is no food. Others are also dying of diseases because health facilities which are in existence have ceased to receive drugs and other essential medical supplies because the government does not any longer pay attention to health sector,” he said.
He said the resources of the country have been used to buy weapons to kill the same people from which the resources are generated from their land, from their communities.
“What kind of government is this? This is irresponsible government and that was why I decided to join the liberation struggle because such irresponsible government does not deserve to continue to manage the affairs of the people. This system must be changed. President Salva Kiir must put the interest of the people first and leave the seat because [if] he does not do that, the country will never experience peace,” explained Mounto.
He criticized the creation of the controversial 28 states to replace the existing 10 states, saying it caused division and promoted ethnic hatred.
“In Upper Nile state, we were peacefully staying together as people of Upper Nile regardless of whether one was a Burun, Dinka, Nuer, Maban, Shilluk or any from other tribes but now this the creation of 28 states has divided people into ethnic enclaves and people now see themselves as enemies because of this division,” he argued.
He said the policy of the 28 states was a divide and rule system which was fought against for several years, adding it must not be entertained again no matter who wants to bring it back.