October 23, 2016 (JUBA) - Officials in South Sudan’s Yei state have switched allegiance from the government to the armed opposition faction led Riek Machar, claiming the army in the area was no longer protecting people.
Yei county commissioner, Bidali Cosmas Wöri – Kojo, is one the state’s local officials who have defected to the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) led by Machar.
The official, who defected on Saturday, was also joined and accompanied by many government soldiers. He cited the failure and unwillingness of the government to bring peace to the country.
State’s information minister, Steven Lodu Onseimo, could not deny or confirm the report of the defection. He however claimed that security situation was under control after a government delegation comprising two top presidential advisors and several local and national members of parliament from the area last week visited Yei town, the administrative headquarters of the new state.
Political differences between President Kiir and his former deputy, Machar, first erupted into violent conflict in late 2013. They signed a peace deal in August 2015, but sporadic fighting has continued.
Machar returned to Juba in April to take up his position as deputy again when the July clashes flared up. He later withdrew with his forces from the capital and fled after his headquarters was bombed to rubble by the government forces using ground and air forces.
Bidali, who until his defection was the commissioner of Yei county at the time, also served as Yei town mayor.