September 29, 2016 (JUBA) - General Dau Aturjong, a high ranking military officer who abandoned government at the height of the civil war in 2014 and joined rebellion, has returned to the South Sudanese army (SPLA).
- General Dau Aturjong (ST)
Aturjong defected to the armed opposition movement led by South Sudan’s former vice-president, Riek Machar, but has now rejoined the army and also instructed his forces Aweil to follow him without conditions.
What prompted the ex-rebel commander to switch sides remain unclear, with his supporters claiming he responded to call from the community to forget the past and open a new political page.
Other, however, claimed Aturjong failed to secure a high ranking position within the armed opposition leadership, during the selection and recommendation for officials to occupy high level positions, including in cabinet, upon returning to the capital, Juba.
In an attempt to assure the public of his reconciliation with the army chief of staff, General Malong Awan, the duo travelled to Aweil, the former administrative headquarters of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state and held a community meeting to announce the abrupt decision.
While addressing the community, Aturjong said he abandoned the armed opposition for government and returned to the community in order to work for peace and reconciliation among the population.
“There have been who have been asking me what I was doing with Riek Machar and what did I get from him. I tell them I was not going for a position. There was a reason for which I went and I have now returned because I have accepted the call of the community and today mark my return. It is a happy day. It is an historic day for the people of Aweil and our message is that we want to work together, we want unity,” said Aturjong.
He likened his decision to switch allegiance from the armed opposition to the government side to cleanliness of a person who cleans his own house thereby attracting other people to follow suit.
Meanwhile, Awan said the former rebel commander was a “liberator” known by everyone in the area, but decided to join rebellion due to “grievances” and other “political disappointments”.
“It is indeed a very important day for the people of Aweil as General Dau has said it correctly, because in reality General Dau is one of the people who were in the struggle. Everybody knows him. He was just absent because of a certain disappointment which we don’t want to go back to it. And he has come back without any condition,” Awan told the community.
He said Aturjong was in the community to assure the people that he was ready to work with government in the struggle to restore peace.
“So that is why we have just taken this day to be for him in Aweil to talk to his people and to be seen by his people that he is just among us and he is highly welcome,” stressed Awan, who later held Aturjong’s hand as they waved to the public to signify reconciliation.