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S. Sudan army says General Peter Gadet defected from ranks

December 18, 2013 (JUBA) -The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has said General Peter Gadet has defected from its ranks.

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Gen. Peter Gadet (centre) is welcomed by Mayom commisioner Martin Machot Deng (right) after agreeing to a ceasefire with the SPLA on 2 September 2011 (ST)

Gadet was a commander in charge of the SPLA’s 8th Division in Jonglei state. He reportedly broke off from the national army ranks on allegations that his tribe, the Nuer, have been targeted in the current tension that has engulfed the country following what the government said was a ‘‘coup attempt.’’

“What will you say if the forces under your direct command have gone amok to kill and loot the properties of innocent civilian they are mandated to protect? This is definitely a question of rebellion,’’ a senior military official said on Wednesday.

The official confirmed that indeed Peter Gadet had defected.

‘‘And I am not surprised it is again Peter Gadet doing it this time in support of his master, Riek Machar. He was with him in 1991 and it is possible he goes with him now. Nobody can rule out this possibility,” the official said on Wednesday.

In 1991 Machar defected from the then rebel movement during its long civil war with Sudan.

When contacted, Colonel Philip Aguer, spokesperson of the SPLA, said he was still assembling information on security situation in Jonglei. But he confirmed that Malual Chat and Panpandiar military bases around Bor town had experienced heavy gunfire.

The SPLA spokesman said Peter Gadet had cut off communication with the general headquarters.

“There is no communication with the general headquarters. He is out of his base moving in five vehicles”, Aguer told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday without giving details.

Military and United Nations sources have confirmed that civilians have fled Bor and that the military barracks in and around the area are under full control of Peter Gadet Yak.

“It could be true because Gadet was the commanding officer of the SPLA’s 8th division in the area. And as you may have heard, UN Radio, Miraya FM, reports that civilians are swarming the UN Camp in Bor after heavy gunfire erupted in the town at around 1: am,’’ a senior government official from Jonglei state told Sudan Tribune in a separate interview on Wednesday.

Observers and independent analysts have expressed fears that Gadet’s defection could complicate the security situation in Jonglei where government forces have been battling to exert full control in areas where rebel David Yauyau has remained active since 2012.

(ST)

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