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Rebels open to all options for democratic change in S Sudan: commander

July 11, 2014 (JUBA) – A South Sudanese general who defected to the rebel faction led by former vice-president, Riek Machar sent out congratulatory message to the people of South Sudan on the country’s third anniversary since gaining independence from the north, saying all options to restore law and order would be considered.

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General Dau Aturjong (ST)

General Dau Aturjong, accused president Salva Kiir of deliberately throwing the country into “shame” and “total confusion”, stressing that he hopes the next celebration will be conducted in a peaceful, just and democratic state where the citizens would be free to talk and be heard.

Gen. Aturjong, the former commander of the SPLA division 6, last May declared his defection to the rebel SPLM/A In Opposition at a press conference held in the Kenyan capital. He is a member of South Sudan’s largest community, the Dinka, and hails from Northern Bahr el Ghazal state,; the region with the biggest community population.

In 2010 elections, the defected general contested for the gubernatorial seat in his native state as an independent candidate and accused the SPLM-backed, Gen Paul Malong Awan, of rigging the votes in his favour. The later was picked as chief of general staff on 29 April.

The rebel general regretted that the country is under the leadership of individuals ruining it for personal ambitions, though they do not have basis to turn the nation into “slaughter house”.

“It is unfortunate that the country enters the third anniversary while some of our people are in concentration camps, others have fled and some are living in constant fear from those who have turned the country into slaughter house. The celebrations of the third anniversary have been poisoned with the blood of our innocent people in the hands of monsters”, General Aturjong further said in statements to Sudan Tribune on Thursday.

He further congratulated the leader of the armed opposition, Riek Machar, for taking the challenge to champion the change on behalf of the people of the country.

“I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate the leadership of the Movement, under the command of comrade Dr. Riek Machar Teny, the commander in chief of the SPLA forces and all the other comrades in the struggle,” added General Aturjong.

Aturjong also called on South Sudanese to join the SPLM/A in Opposition to transform the country into a democratic state where people are treated on equal basis before the law, regardless of their ethnic identity, region, gender or religion stressing that the rebel group “is fighting for the restoration of national identity, freedom, dignity, love and pride”.

“I would like our people to show interest in the essentiality of the establishment of the movement and what message does its leadership sends out instead of confusing it with personality. The message and the messenger are two separate things and they should not be confused”, he said hinting to the tribal factor which prevents people from his ethnic group to join the rebels .

Last June The former division commander urged all members of his community Northern Bahr el Ghazal state currently serving in the pro-government army to join rebellion. He also extended similar messages to the other communities in the new nation.

OPEN TO ALL OPTIONS

The top rebel commander said that they are not going to rule out any possible course of action to bring peace and achieve democratic transformation in the new country, wondering why the young people allowed the country to be brought down under their watch.

“It is not up to Salva Kiir and his friends to dictate the terms of the agreement. They have tried that but it did not work and I think they will accept the demand of our people, whether by ballots or bullets. All options are available and it is just a matter of time before the regime of Salva Kiir and his friends will get the clear message,” he underlined.

South Sudanese rebel commander did not elaborate on these options, although many government officials, including president Kiir have claimed that rebels are “preparing all options", including a possible ground offensive, against government forces.

In a recent interview, General Aturjong said that his defection should not be seen as a matter of personal conflict with the SPLA chief of general staff stressing that he fights for justice and equality in the country accusing Kiir’s regime of practicing the same policy that Khartoum had implemented before the secession.

LEGACY OF YOUTH

The rebel commander challenged the young people about the legacy they will leave to the next generation as part of their contribution to the nation if they cannot join the rebel movement to restore national identity and true unity of the new nation, saying the struggle was for new republic.

“What will you, the young people, the youth, tell the other generation that you have done. For us, we cut short our education and took to the bush to fight for true national identity, freedom, justice, dignity and democracy. And now we have resumed the cause because we have come to realise there were people within us who had different ambitions and objectives to achieve.”

He further continued to fustigate the government of president Kiir saying they deceived him because they put their personal ambition above the national interest.

“This is the big difference we have come to know and we know you the youth to see the difference and take immediate action,” said General Aturjong.

(ST)